Asian currencies completed a weekly decline, led by the New Taiwan dollar and South Korea’s won, as an uprising in Libya pushed up oil prices and sapped demand for emerging-market assets.
The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index, which tracks the region’s 10 most-traded currencies, had its worst week since Jan. 7 after crude hit a 29-month high of US$103.41 a barrel on Thursday.
“Geopolitical risks increased risk aversion in the region,” said Frances Cheung, a senior strategist at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong. “I see less room for the Taiwan currency to appreciate.”
The NT dollar slumped 1.2 percent this week to NT$29.754 versus the greenback as of the 4pm Taipei close on Friday, according to Taipei Forex Inc.
The Taiwanese currency sunk to the lowest since Jan. 7 on Friday after overseas investors sold a net US$1.1 billion in Taiwanese equities this week.
South Korea’s won dropped 1.3 percent to 1,126.45, the Philippine peso weakened 0.8 percent to 43.708 and the Malaysian ringgit fell 0.5 percent to 3.0500.
China’s yuan weakened 0.1 percent to 6.5770, while Indonesia’s rupiah rose 0.3 percent to 8,838.
The yen and the Swiss franc were the top two performers against the US dollar as Libya’s uprising drove oil to a 29-month high, spurring demand for the safest assets.
The franc reached a record high versus the US dollar and the yen had its biggest weekly jump against the US currency this year as investors sought stability. The euro gained versus the greenback on bets the European Central Bank (ECB) will try to stem inflation from rising fuel costs by increasing interest rates before the Federal Reserve. The ECB meets on Thursday.
The yen strengthened 1.8 percent to ￥81.68 per US dollar in New York, the most since a 2.2 percent gain in the five days ended Dec. 31, from ￥83.18 on Feb. 18. It gained 1.4 percent against the euro to ￥112.35.
The franc appreciated 1.8 percent to SF0.9281 per US dollar, from SF0.9446 a week earlier. It touched SF0.9227 on Friday, the strongest level since at least 1971, when Bloomberg records begin. The Swiss currency rose 1.3 percent to SF1.2768 per euro, from SF1.2935.
The euro rose 0.5 percent to US$1.3754, from US$1.3693. It reached US$1.3838 on Friday, the highest level since Feb. 2.
The pound weakened 1.5 percent to ￡0.8554 per euro as of 5:28pm in London on Friday. Sterling fell 1.1 percent to US$1.6081, the most since Dec. 17. It depreciated against the Japanese currency for the first time in four weeks to ￥131.42.