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Asia, Forex

Indonesia’s rupiah leads Asian currencies lower; Indian rupee firms

* Indonesian rupiah at its lowest in a week * Philippine peso firms 0.5%, equities down 1.7% * Indian rupee strengthens 0.3% * Bearish bets on most Asian currencies firm – Reuters poll By Sameer Manekar April 8 (Reuters) – The Indonesian rupiah led the decline among most of Asia’s emerging currencies on Thursday after a proposal to expand the central bank’s mandate got renewed support from President Joko Widodo. Equities in the region broadly edged higher, with India’s Nifty 50 gaining nearly a percent in what would be a third straight day of gains. Philippine shares fell 1.7% to mark their sharpest fall in nearly three weeks, and ended a three-day streak of gains. Indonesia’s rupiah, which backs some of the highest-yielding debt in emerging markets, lost half a percent on a report that President Widodo was pushing to expand Bank of Indonesia’s mandate to include economic growth and job creation. Last year, his administration and some lawmakers fielded a draft bill to expand the central bank’s mandate, drawing concerns among foreign investors – who hold a major chunk of the country’s debt – over greater government oversight of the central bank. “These reports have caused concerns whether it will erode the independence of the central bank in the way it manages monetary policy, leading to the underperformance of the currency,” Khoon Goh, head of Asia research for ANZ said. Analysts at Citi expect the rupiah to continue to underperform due to seasonally higher imports and dividend and coupon payment outflows over April and May, and have positioned themselves for a weaker currency through options. In March, the rupiah weakened 2%. Bearish bets on most Asian currencies were also raised, a Reuters poll showed, as investors contend with elevated U.S. bond yields and an outperforming U.S. economy. In India, the rupee recovered some ground, appreciating 0.3% after a sharp 1.5% fall in the previous session following the central bank’s announcement of a large bond buying programme and decision to leave rates at record lows. While stocks fell in Manila, the peso strengthened 0.5% after the Philippines reported its smallest trade deficit in three months in February on the back of falling imports and a decline in the slowdown of exports. “Expect the trade deficit to remain modest compared with pre-COVID-19 averages, which should translate to a current account surplus and near-term support for the peso,” Nicholas Mapa, senior economist, Philippines, at ING said. The country also suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for people below 60 years to investigate reports of blood clots. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields fell 3.5 basis points to 6.505% ** Tata Motors and Tech Mahindra were the top gainers on Nifty 50 index ** Taiwan stocks gain 0.7% to scale a fresh peak Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0640 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDEX STOCKS STOCKS DAILY % YTD % DAILY % YTD % Japan +0.11 -5.91 -0.07 8.25 China -0.09 -0.33 0.24 0.43 India +0.23 -1.76 0.66 6.69 Indonesia -0.45 -3.54 0.38 1.34 Malaysia -0.11 -2.77 0.11 -1.53 Philippines +0.47 -1.09 -1.60 -8.33 S.Korea -0.08 -2.77 0.19 9.39 Singapore +0.01 -1.51 -0.06 12.31 Taiwan +0.04 +0.24 0.66 14.89 Thailand -0.35 -4.71 0.12 7.53 (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)


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