South Korea’s won led gains in Asian currencies this week after economic growth exceeded forecasts. The Thai baht completed its worst five days in six years on speculation of currency controls.
The won advanced to a four-week high as South Korea’s GDP increased 0.9 percent last quarter, beating the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey for a rise of 0.7 percent. Reports showed the UK economy avoided a triple-dip recession and US jobless claims fell last week, raising optimism about the strength of a global recovery.
The won strengthened 0.4 percent to 1,112.01 per US dollar in Seoul from April 19, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The New Taiwan dollar climbed 0.5 percent to NT$29.705 this week, with the greenback falling for three consecutive trading days as foreign investors continued to pour in funds, dealers said.
However, the US dollar’s losses were limited because of intervention by the central bank, which has tried to keep the NT dollar from appreciating too quickly to maintain Taiwan’s global competitiveness, they added.
The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index, which tracks the region’s 10 most-active currencies excluding the yen, advanced 0.1 percent from April 19. It gained 0.6 percent in the previous two weeks.
The yuan touched 6.1616 per US dollar on Friday, the strongest level since the government unified the official and market exchange rates at the end of 1993, after the People’s Bank of China raised its fixing by 0.15 percent to 6.2208.
“Pressure for yuan appreciation is growing as China’s [financial and capital account] surplus jumped,” said Daniel Chan, a Hong Kong-based executive vice president at Glory Sky Global Markets.
The baht lost 2 percent to 29.24, its worst week since January 2007, after Thai Permanent Secretary for Finance Areepong Bhoocha-oom said in Bangkok on Friday the ministry may “adjust conditions on the purchase of government bonds,” without providing details.
Elsewhere in Asia this week, India’s rupee weakened 0.7 percent to 54.375, the Philippine peso lost 0.4 percent to 41.222 per US dollar after the central bank cut the rate it pays on special-deposit accounts for the third time this year. Indonesia’s rupiah dropped 0.1 percent to 9,721, while Vietnam’s dong slipped 0.2 percent to 20,930.
YEN REVERSES UP
The yen gained the most versus the US dollar since June last year, as the Bank of Japan (BOJ) failed to offer additional stimulus efforts, fueling bets it would fall short in its effort to stoke economic growth by weakening the currency.
The euro fell for a second week versus the greenback on speculation the European Central Bank would cut its record-low key interest rate next week as the region’s economy slumps. The yen rose as BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said more easing steps were not needed at present and investors sought safety as the US economy expanded less than forecast.
The Japanese currency appreciated 1.5 percent to ￥98.05 per US dollar this week in New York, the biggest jump since the five days ended June 1 last year. It lost for the previous three weeks, sliding to ￥99.95 on April 11, almost reaching ￥100 for the first time in four years. Against the euro, the yen gained 1.7 percent, the most since February, to ￥127.73. The 17-nation currency slipped 0.2 percent to US$1.3030.
The pound was the biggest winner among the US dollar’s 16 most-traded counterparts this week, rallying 1.6 percent, as a government report showed the UK economy avoided a recession last quarter.