Sun, Dec 08, 2013 - Page 15 News List

India’s rupee leads weekly gains in Asian currencies

Bloomberg and Staff writer, with CNA

India’s rupee led an advance in Asian currencies this week after exit polls showed that the main opposition party is gaining support, while the Thai baht had the biggest loss amid anti-government protests.

The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index climbed 0.1 percent over the past five days, halting two weeks of losses.

In Taipei, the New Taiwan dollar was little changed against the greenback, ending the week at NT$29.665 compared with NT$29.679 on Nov. 29.

The US dollar fell against the NT dollar Friday, shedding NT$0.025 in thin trading as many traders stayed on the sidelines ahead of the release of a jobs report in the US later that day.

The anxiety of traders over the job data was running high after Washington reported stronger-than-expected economic growth for the third quarter on Wednesday, escalating fears that the Fed will soon taper its billion bond buying program, they said.

The central bank, as it has done recently, entered the trading floor late in the session, picking up the greenback and cutting its NT dollar holdings to help the US currency recoup most of its earlier losses, dealers said.

Downward pressure emerged as traders took cues from a move by the People’s Bank of China to raise the reference rate to a new high for the Chinese yuan in exchange for the US currency, dealers said.

Many traders suspected that the higher rate showed greater willingness by Chinese authorities to allow the yuan to trade in a wider range, which could boost the value of other regional units, they said.

The rupee appreciated 1.2 percent this week to 61.6813 per US dollar, the most since the period ended on Oct. 4, as of 2:19pm on Friday in Mumbai, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The yuan had its biggest weekly gain in more than a month, adding 0.19 percent to 6.0817, as the People’s Bank of China set the daily fixing at the strongest level on record amid speculation steps to loosen foreign exchange rules will lure inflows.

The Chinese central bank boosted the reference rate by 0.13 percent to 6.1232 per US dollar on Friday, the strongest since a peg to the greenback ended in July 2005 and 0.15 percent higher than a week ago. The monetary authority is proposing free convertibility of the yuan in special accounts in Shanghai’s free-trade zone, according to a document published on Monday on its Web site.

The baht had a sixth weekly decline, falling 0.9 percent to 32.34 to post its longest losing streak since June, due to concern that prolonged political unrest will hurt investor sentiment.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea’s won was little changed this week at 1,057.90 against the greenback, while Indonesia’s rupiah was steady at 11,964, the Philippine peso lost 0.4 percent to 43.955, Malaysia’s ringgit fell 0.3 percent to 3.2337 and Vietnam’s dong weakened 0.1 percent to 21,140.

The euro rallied for a fourth week against the greenback, the longest streak since June, as European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi refrained from adding to monetary stimulus.

Europe’s 17-nation currency rallied 0.9 percent to US$1.3706 this week in New York, while the greenback rose 0.5 percent to ¥102.91, the sixth straight weekly gain and the longest streak since February. Japan’s currency fell 1.3 percent to ¥141.03 per euro.

The 17-nation currency strengthened versus most of its 16 major peers as the EU central bank’s stance outweighed labor and economic data in the US that was stronger than forecast, as traders bet the Fed will keep its benchmark interest rates unchanged even when it slows its bond-buying.

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