Sun, Sep 29, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Asian currencies tumble on fears of US shutdown

AMERICAN ANXIETY:The week’s biggest losers were Indonesia and Malaysia, as the region became more cautious ahead of the key US budget vote next week

Bloomberg and staff writer, with CNA

Asian currencies fell this week, led by Indonesia’s rupiah and Malaysia’s ringgit, as concern that US lawmakers will be unable to resolve a budget impasse deterred risk-taking.

The rupiah touched its weakest level since April 2009 on Wednesday, while the ringgit had its biggest weekly drop in three months.

Overseas investors pulled US$381 million from Indonesian and Thai stocks this week, exchange data show.

The US Senate voted on Friday to finance the government through Nov. 15 after removing language to choke off funding for a healthcare law, putting pressure on the US House of Representatives to avoid a federal shutdown set for Oct. 1.

In Taipei, the New Taiwan dollar advanced 0.3 percent to NT$29.656 this week, compared with NT$29.752 on Sept. 18, the final day of trading last week before markets closed for the four-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday.

The greenback shed NT$0.017 against the local currency to close at NT$29.656 on Friday as foreign institutional investors shifted to the buy side on the TAIEX to boost demand for the NT dollar, dealers said.

The repatriation of funds by local exporters from their overseas production bases also added downward pressure on the US currency, they said.

As it has done in recent sessions, the central bank intervened to bolster the US dollar, helping the unit recoup most of its earlier losses and capping the NT dollar’s gains, they said. Intervention became evident as the US dollar moved closer to NT$29.50, indicating the bank is determined to prevent the greenback from falling below that level in the near future, dealers said.

Elsewhere in Asia, China’s yuan was little changed at 6.1202 per US dollar, South Korea’s won rose 0.2 percent to 1,073.65 and Vietnam’s dong held steady at 21,114.

In Jakarta, the rupiah slid 1.7 percent this week to 11,539 per US dollar, while in Malaysia, the ringgit declined 1.9 percent to 3.2276.

The Philippine peso weakened 0.7 percent to 43.33, Thailand’s baht fell 0.7 percent to 31.33 and India’s rupee lost 0.4 percent to 62.4975.

Thailand’s baht had its first weekly loss in three on concern that the nation’s recession will deter foreign inflows.

Barclays PLC cut the country’s economic growth forecast for the year to 2.5 percent from 3.5 percent, citing a domestic credit crunch, waning stimulus and lack of confidence after GDP decreased in the first two quarters. Overseas sales fell in each of the three months through July.

The US dollar fell in the longest stretch since June this week, as the yen rallied the most against the greenback’s 16 major peers after comments from Japanese Minister of Finance Taro Aso dampened bets that Tokyo will cut corporate taxes.

The US currency was little changed at US$1.3522 per euro and gained 1.1 percent to ¥98.24. Japan’s currency added 1.1 percent to ¥132.86 versus the euro.

The Bloomberg US Dollar Index, which tracks the performance of a basket of 10 leading global currencies against the greenback, fell 0.1 percent this week to 1,012.75 in New York. It reached 1,006.40 on Sept. 19, the lowest level on a closing basis since Feb. 20.

In the UK, the pound rose against the US dollar for a fourth week — the longest streak in a year — as Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said he sees no case for further stimulus measures that typically debase the currency.

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