Sun, Dec 09, 2012 - Page 15 News List

US budget woes hit Asian currencies

ALARM ABROAD:All eyes are on the US and the EU as they struggle to resolve their fiscal issues, and the gloomy sentiment put an end to Asian currencies’ 15-month high


Asian currencies retreated from a 15-month high this week as US lawmakers struggled to agree on budget revisions needed to avert US$607 billion of automatic spending cuts and tax increases in the world’s biggest economy.

The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index, having gained in each of the past six months, halted its advance as Malaysia’s ringgit had its worst week since August.

US President Barack Obama on Wednesday said that the global economy remains “soft” and the deadlock in Washington over taxes and spending, the so-called “fiscal cliff,” is holding the US back from leading a strong recovery. The US Federal Reserve meets next week, when the central bank is forecast to increase its asset purchases.

The ringgit slid 0.6 percent this week to 3.0578 per US dollar in Kuala Lumpur, data compiled by Bloomberg show. China’s yuan was little changed this week at 6.2301 per US dollar, while Thailand’s baht and the New Taiwan dollar were steady at 30.68 and NT$29.125 respectively. South Korea’s won strengthened 0.1 percent to 1,081.55. Indonesia’s rupiah fell 0.7 percent to 9,658, the Philippine peso declined 0.1 percent to 40.933 and India’s rupee fell 0.4 percent to 54.4750.

The Asia Dollar Index, which tracks the region’s 10 most active currencies, excluding the yen, fell 0.1 percent. It reached 118.26 on Nov. 30, the highest since September last year.

Meanwhile, European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi said the eurozone’s economy will shrink 0.5 percent this year this year, while Germany’s central bank slashed its growth estimate for next year to 0.4 percent from 1.6 percent predicted in June.

“Draghi’s words mean the recovery will be slower than previously expected, damping exports to Europe,” said Chong Wee-khoon (張偉勤) of Societe Generale SA in Hong Kong. “More regional central banks are getting a bit more aggressive in intervening in the market to protect the recovery in exports.”

The Central Bank of the Philippine on Monday said capital controls may be part of steps to deal with inflows. South Korea’s market regulators are reviewing more curbs after tightening limits on currency forwards last month, South Korean Financial Services Commission chairman Kim Seok-dong said last week.

The ringgit fell the most since the five days ended on Aug. 31. A Malaysian government report on Friday showed exports shrank 3.2 percent in October from a year earlier, following a 2.6 percent increase in September.

India’s rupee erased gains, after reaching a one-month high of 54.045 per US dollar on Thursday. Indian lawmakers this week voted in favor of a government decision to open the retailing sector to the likes of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

In Europe, the euro fell against the US dollar and yen for the first time in four weeks, seeing its biggest one-day decline in a month on Thursday as the ECB joined the Bundesbank in scaling back growth projections.

The US dollar weakened against higher-yielding currencies after the nation’s employment rate unexpectedly fell to an almost four-year low. The euro fell 0.5 percent to US$1.2927 in New York for the first weekly loss since Nov. 9. It touched US$1.2877 on Friday, the weakest since Nov. 23. The euro declined 0.4 percent to ¥106.67, reaching ¥106.12 on Friday, the lowest in more than a week. The yen was little changed versus the US dollar at ¥82.49.

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