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China’s yuan fix, exports data boost Asia FX as recession worries linger

* PBOC sets firmer fixing than expected, but weakest since 2008 * China export data shows signs of resistance to U.S. trade pressure * Indian rupee, baht gain after rate cuts; c.banks raise concerns for future * Philippine central bank expected to cut rates later on Thursday (Adds text, updates prices) By Nikhil Nainan Aug 8 (Reuters) – China’s yuan gained on Thursday after more signs Beijing was slowing its fall, while currencies across Asia were also lifted by better export data from China a day after surprise rate cuts by central banks raised the spectre of a global recession. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) set the midpoint rate at a firmer level than most had predicted, allaying some investor nerves after the yuan crossed the key 7 per dollar level on Monday. However, the fixing was still the weakest in more than a decade. “This suggests that PBoC still desires stability over volatility,” Maybank said in a note, referring to Thursday’s fixing. The yuan strengthened 0.2% against the dollar to 7.044. Further helping sentiment, data earlier in the day showed China’s exports unexpectedly returned to growth in July despite escalating U.S. trade pressure, rising 3.3% from a year earlier, when analysts had looked for a fall of 2%. Concerns still remain about whether the world’s second largest economy can withstand even more pressure from Washington after U.S. President Donald Trump said his country would levy additional tariffs on Chinese goods from Sept. 1. Market participants were taken back on Wednesday when Asian central banks raised concerns about global growth with New Zealand and India delivering bigger-than-expected rate cuts while Thailand eased policy unexpectedly. That set the stage for the Philippine central bank’s meeting later in the day, with some even predicting it might cut by a steep 50 basis points, similar to the shock move by New Zealand. The Southeast Asian country earlier in the day released data showing below-forecast gross domestic product growth of 5.5% in the second quarter, the weakest in almost two years. The peso was marginally stronger against the dollar. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which cut rates by an unconventional 35 basis points for its fourth straight easing on Wednesday, also highlighted its worries about domestic growth. The rupee was little changed at 70.840 a dollar, as oil prices jumped on expectations of more production cuts. HSBC expects two more 25 basis-point rate cuts by the RBI over the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of the next, “making this a 160bp rate-cutting cycle.” The baht, Asia’s best performer this year, gained 0.2% to 30.74, a day after the Thai central bank surprised markets with its own 25 basis points rate cut to 1.5%, a quarter-point above the record low. “A rate cut might lower the baht’s yield appeal, but it will be no panacea,” DBS wrote in a note. South Korea’s won <KRW-KFTC> and Taiwan’s dollar, both of which are highly susceptible to trade-related news, gained 0.4% each. In a further easing of market fears in South Korea, two officials at its trade ministry said the country held off plans to drop Japan from the so-called “white list” of countries with fast-track export status, amid the broader trade dispute between the two countries. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Change on the day at 0505 GMT Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 106.130 106.26 +0.12 Sing dlr 1.382 1.3823 +0.05 Taiwan dlr 31.349 31.487 +0.44 Korean won 1210.400 1214.9 +0.37 Baht 30.740 30.8 +0.20 Peso 52.180 52.24 +0.11 Rupiah 14210.000 14215 +0.04 Rupee 70.840 70.89 +0.06 Ringgit 4.182 4.186 +0.10 Yuan 7.044 7.0596 +0.22 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 106.130 109.56 +3.23 Sing dlr 1.382 1.3627 -1.37 Taiwan dlr 31.349 30.733 -1.96 Korean won 1210.400 1115.70 -7.82 Baht 30.740 32.55 +5.89 Peso 52.180 52.47 +0.56 Rupiah 14210.000 14375 +1.16 Rupee 70.840 69.77 -1.51 Ringgit 4.182 4.1300 -1.24 Yuan 7.044 6.8730 -2.43 (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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