Sun, May 25, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Ringgit, rupee take Asian peers on weekly advance


Malaysia’s ringgit led Asian currencies’ advance this week amid the fastest economic growth in a year, with the rupee extending its stretch of gains after India’s clearest election results in three decades.

Southeast Asia’s third-biggest economy grew 6.2 percent in the first quarter, beating the median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg News survey for a 5.7 percent increase, official data showed.

Malaysia’s inflation rate eased last month, reports showed this month, while a Wednesday report showed consumer prices climbed 3.4 percent last month, slowing from 3.5 percent in March and February, but recording the quickest pace of growth since June 2011.

The ringgit advanced 0.7 percent to 3.2115 per US dollar this week, data compiled by Bloomberg show, while the rupee rose 0.5 percent to 58.5075 in Mumbai in its fourth weekly gain — the currency’s longest stretch since February last year.

Malaysia’s data are “painting quite a strong domestic backdrop,” Westpac Banking Corp currency strategist Jonathan Cavenagh said. “In India, it’s been a carry-on from the election euphoria.”

Indian prime minister-designate Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party won the country’s first single-party majority since 1984, spurring optimism that the new government will revive economic growth.

In Taipei, the New Taiwan dollar climbed 0.1 percent to NT$30.180 against the greenback to complete its third straight weekly advance after foreign funds pumped money into local stocks and a report signaled an improvement in China’s economy, the nation’s largest overseas market.

“The China data was strong, but the equity-related inflow was the main factor supporting the Taiwan dollar,” Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank (台北富邦銀行) economist Cindy Yu (尤敏君) said. “The currency also follows the [South] Korean won, which has been holding its gains.”

The won, which competes with the NT dollar in world markets, has gained 3.9 percent this quarter — the most in Asia — and fell 0.1 percent this week to 1,024.75 against the greenback. Taiwan’s currency has gained 1.1 percent this quarter.

The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index dropped 0.1 percent to 115.96 over the week.

In Bangkok, the baht rose to within 0.2 percent of its level prior to last week’s coup on the back of optimism that a military takeover will stabilize Thailand after six months of political unrest.

The baht gained as much as 0.4 percent to 32.46 per US dollar on Friday, after trading at 32.40 immediately prior to the army takeover. It fell 0.2 percent for the week to 32.56.

Elsewhere in Asia this week, the Philippine peso rose 0.2 percent to 43.665, Indonesia’s rupiah declined 1.7 percent to 11,615 in its biggest five-day drop of the year, the yuan lost 0.05 percent to 6.2365 and the dong gained 0.1 percent to 21,148.

In Europe, the euro fell for a third week as measures of manufacturing and business confidence in the region signaled uneven economic growth, bolstering bets on further European Central Bank stimulus next month.

The shared currency reached a three-month low on concern that euroskeptic parties will gain ground this weekend in European Parliamentary elections.

The euro fell 0.5 percent to US$1.3629 this week in New York and was little changed against the yen, ending on 138.97, as the US dollar rose 0.5 percent to ¥101.97.

In London, the pound strengthened for a fourth week against the euro as a jump in UK retail sales stoked speculation that the Bank of England will hasten plans to raise interest rates as the economy grows.

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