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Asia, Forex

Most Asian units rise as dollar weakens on dovish Fed talk

* SKorean won and Indonesian rupiah on track for 0.6% weekly gain * Markets raise bets on aggressive cut after dovish Fed talk * Thai baht strengthens after Fitch outlook upgrade (Adds text, updates prices) By Rashmi Ashok July 19 (Reuters) – Most emerging Asian currencies rose against a weaker dollar on Friday after a dovish speech by a top Federal Reserve official sealed market expectations of a U.S. rate cut in July New York Fed President John Williams said on Thursday that it was imperative for policymakers to add stimulus early to deal with low inflation when rates are near zero, instead of waiting for an economic disaster to unfold. The news drove down the dollar index to a two-week low of 96.671 on Thursday, and on Friday there was only a marginal recovery, giving Asian currencies a fillip. “The market anticipates at least a 25 basis points at the end of the July FOMC but after the comments from the policymaker the probabilities of a deeper rate cut have risen,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at OANDA. Although a later clarification from a Fed representative said the speech was academic in nature and not about decisions at the Fed’s coming policy meet, that did little to dent the upbeat mood. All Asian units were on track to rise for the week, except for the Indian rupee which was marginally lower. The Korean won and the Indonesian rupiah led gains in the region for the week, with both set to add about 0.6%. After Bank Indonesia and Bank of Korea’s rate cuts on Thursday, analysts expect further easing among Asian central banks, emboldened by rising signs that the Fed will remain dovish in the near future. “Over the coming few quarters, we can expect more rate cuts from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea,” analysts at DBS Research Group said. BAHT GAINS ON OUTLOOK UPGRADE The Thai baht added 0.4% and was among top performers on Friday after ratings agency Fitch revised its outlook on Thailand to “positive” from “stable”. Fitch forecast that external finances will remain robust, adding “we expect the current account surplus to remain high relative to peers… supported by tourism inflows and a goods surplus, despite slowing exports.” The agency said it expects the Thai central bank to keep rates on hold during 2019. “The baht’s strength relative to regional peers could weigh on Thailand’s export competitiveness, but it is unclear that this has manifested itself yet, with recent export declines broadly in line with peers,” Fitch said. The baht is the region’s best performer this year, adding about 5.9% against the dollar. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0518 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 107.570 107.29 -0.26 Sing dlr 1.356 1.3565 +0.01 Taiwan dlr 31.058 31.077 +0.06 Korean won 1173.800 1178.8 +0.43 Baht 30.750 30.88 +0.42 Peso 50.990 50.92 -0.14 Rupiah 13905.000 13955 +0.36 Rupee 68.815 68.95 +0.20 Ringgit 4.108 4.113 +0.12 Yuan 6.876 6.8805 +0.07 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 107.570 109.56 +1.85 Sing dlr 1.356 1.3627 +0.46 Taiwan dlr 31.058 30.733 -1.05 Korean won 1173.800 1115.70 -4.95 Baht 30.750 32.55 +5.85 Peso 50.990 52.47 +2.90 Rupiah 13905.000 14375 +3.38 Rupee 68.815 69.77 +1.39 Ringgit 4.108 4.1300 +0.54 Yuan 6.876 6.8730 -0.04 (Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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