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Asia, Forex

Most Asian currencies move gingerly before ECB, rupiah slips

* Prospective rate cut decision weighs on sentiment * Higher oil prices put rupee, rupiah, baht under strain * Rupiah slips to a near 2-week low (Adds text, updates prices) By Aby Jose Koilparambil July 24 (Reuters) – The Indonesian rupiah weakened to a near two-week low on Wednesday, while most other regional currencies barely moved as investors stayed cautious ahead of Thursday’s European Central Bank (ECB) meeting. Central bank easing remains a key theme for currency markets, amid persistent global growth worries, fuelling expectations the ECB will cut, as will the U.S. Federal Reserve on July 31. Unlike Asian shares, regional currencies did not strengthen following a Bloomberg report that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would travel to Shanghai next week to meet Chinese officials. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Tuesday called the meeting a good sign and said he expected Beijing to start buying U.S. agriculture products soon. Khoon Goh, head of research at ANZ Banking Group (Singapore), said that despite the positive news on Sino-U.S. trade, Asian currencies “were relatively subdued as market participants are awaiting the ECB decision on Thursday, where a rate cut is highly likely.” The South Korean won, Philippine peso, Singapore dollar and Tawian dollar traded in a narrow range. The Indian rupee fell as much as 0.2%, while the Chinese yuan, the Malaysian ringgit and the Thai baht depreciated about 0.1% each. The rupiah slipped as much as 0.3 to 14,022 against the dollar, its weakest level since July 12. Goh attributed the rupiah losses to profit-taking after the currency’s strong showing last week, where it gained 0.5%. The rupiah unit has appreciated in each of the past five weeks, but has lost about 0.6% so far this one. OIL CONCERNS Another factor putting the rupiah under pressure is rising oil prices rooted in lingering concerns about possible supply disruptions in the Middle East. The currencies of major oil importers including India, Indonesia and Thailand have come under strain following Iran’s seizure last week of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, which has raised global prices. The Brent benchmark prices have risen about 2.5% this week, with the rupee and the baht falling as much as 0.4% and 0.5%, respectively. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Change on the day at 0342 GMT Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 108.170 108.21 +0.04 Sing dlr 1.365 1.3650 -0.02 Taiwan dlr 31.078 31.091 +0.04 Korean won 1177.900 1178.9 +0.08 Baht 30.910 30.9 -0.03 Peso 51.255 51.25 -0.01 Rupiah 14010.000 13980 -0.21 Rupee 69.040 68.94 -0.14 Ringgit 4.119 4.118 -0.02 Yuan 6.883 6.8794 -0.05 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 108.170 109.56 +1.29 Sing dlr 1.365 1.3627 -0.19 Taiwan dlr 31.078 30.733 -1.11 Korean won 1177.900 1115.70 -5.28 Baht 30.910 32.55 +5.31 Peso 51.255 52.47 +2.37 Rupiah 14010.000 14375 +2.61 Rupee 69.040 69.77 +1.06 Ringgit 4.119 4.1300 +0.27 Yuan 6.883 6.8730 -0.14 (Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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