Fri, Jan 13, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Citigroup expects NT dollar, Asian currencies to rise

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

The New Taiwan dollar is expected to strengthen throughout this year along with other Asian currencies against the US dollar, which is depressed by a hefty US trade deficit and an expected end to the Federal Reserve's interest rate hikes, Citigroup said yesterday.

The NT dollar is forecast to rise above NT$33.5 versus the greenback and may hit NT$31.5 by the end of this year, Huang Yi-ping (黃益平), Citigroup's head of Asia Pacific Economic and Market Analysis, said in Taipei yesterday.

The NT dollar yesterday rose NT$0.19 to close at NT$31.880 on the Taipei foreign exchange market, supported by foreign capital inflows to buy the nation's stocks.

But the NT dollar's appreciation will be smaller than that of other Asian currencies, mainly due to the nation's decelerating economic growth, Huang said.

Citigroup predicted Taiwan's GDP growth will slow down to 3.6 percent this year from 3.8 percent last year before rebounding to 4.0 percent next year.

The Fed is expected to jack up its federal funds rate for the 14th and last time by the end of this month to 4.5 percent before moving to decrease the rate in the fourth quarter of this year, Huang said.

Meanwhile, backed by its strong economic growth in recent years, the Chinese currency is expected to gradually strengthen to 7.83 yuan against the US dollar by the end of the year, up from 7.93 yuan last year, and could ultimately appreciate by a maximum of 25 percent over the next 10 years, Huang said.

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