Sun, Jan 06, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Won leads Asian currencies amid US Fed anxiety

ASIA ADVANCE:An analysts said emerging markets had a strong start to the year, but uncertainty about the end of bond-buying in the US saw most currencies fall on Friday


South Korean’s won led gains in Asian currencies this week after the US averted US$600 billion of tax increases and spending cuts, easing the risk of a slowdown in the world’s largest economy.

The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index touched a 16-month high on Thursday and regional stocks rallied 1.8 percent in the last four days of the week after US Congress passed a bill on Tuesday that makes income tax cuts permanent for most US workers, while letting them expire for top earners.

Regional currencies fell on Friday after minutes of a US Federal Reserve meeting in Washington indicated a probable end to bond-buying programs this year.

“Emerging market assets had a strong start to 2013 after the US Congress passed legislation delaying the ‘fiscal cliff’ issue,” Credit Agricole CIB strategist Dariusz Kowalczyk said in Hong Kong.

The New Taiwan dollar was little changed at NT$29.125 after the US dollar rose against the local currency on Friday, gaining NT$0.034 to close at the day’s high of NT$29.125 as the greenback reversed earlier losses on the back of buying by the central bank, dealers said.

Local exporters kept cutting their US dollar holdings to push down the unit below the NT$29-mark again, betting that other currencies in the region would gain further against the greenback on the spillover effect from ample liquidity in the global markets, they said.

Despite the gains posted by the NT dollar, market sentiment turned cautious amid fears that the Fed will end its fund injection scheme sooner than expected.

The central bank, as it has done recently, bought into the US dollar and slowed the pace of the NT dollar’s appreciation in a bid to protect the nation’s global competitiveness, the dealers said.

Elsewhere, the Philippine peso advanced 0.4 percent this week to 40.905 against the greenback, as India’s rupee slipped 0.5 percent to 55.0750, Indonesia’s rupiah fell 0.2 percent to 9,660 and Vietnam’s dong held steady at 20,843.

The won appreciated 0.6 percent this week to 1,063.68 per US dollar at the close on Friday in Seoul, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Malaysia’s ringgit advanced 0.3 percent to 3.0525 and Thailand’s baht climbed 0.3 percent to 30.52.

The Asia Dollar Index, which tracks the region’s 10 most active currencies excluding the yen, was little changed.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index of regional shares rose to a 17-month high on Friday after international funds pumped US$1.1 billion into Indian, Taiwanese and South Korean stocks this week, data show.

The ringgit had its biggest weekly gain since November before data due on Wednesday that is forecast to show the nation’s exports increased 2.1 percent in November, compared with a 3.2 percent decline the month before.

Chinese data released this week indicated a recovery in the region’s largest economy may be gathering pace. A non-manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) was at a five-month high of 56.1 last month, the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing said on Thursday.

The yuan strengthened 0.03 percent to 6.2303 per US dollar from Dec. 28. Chinese financial markets were closed from Tuesday through Thursday for public holidays.

Fed policymakers said they will probably end their US$85 billion monthly debt purchases this year, the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee’s Dec. 11 to Dec. 12 meeting released on Thursday showed.

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