Sun, Sep 07, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Asian currencies fall as ECB cuts boost US dollar


Asian currencies had their biggest weekly drop in more than a month as demand for the US dollar rose on the widening interest-rate gap with the euro.

The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index fell 0.2 percent this week in the steepest drop since the period through Aug. 1. South Korea’s won and Malaysia’s ringgit led losses after an unexpected cut in the European Central Bank’s (ECB) benchmark rates. Improving US data are increasing the odds the US Federal Reserve will raise borrowing costs next year.

“The US dollar strength has spilled over in emerging Asian currencies,” said Jonathan Cavenagh, a Singapore-based foreign-exchange strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. “The strengthening US economy is creating expectations that US rates will rise sooner rather than later.”

The ringgit fell 1 percent this week to 3.1825 per US dollar in Kuuala Lumpur, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The won fell 1 percent to 1,024.25, Indonesia’s rupiah lost 0.5 percent to 11,755 and the Thai baht dropped 0.4 percent to 32.081. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index tracking the currency against 10 major peers touched a 13-month high.

In Taiwan, the NT dollar edged down 0.1 percent this week to NT$30.002.

The US dollar rose against the local currency on Friday, gaining NT$0.030 to close at the day’s high, as the central bank took advantage of the weakness of other regional currencies to push down the local unit at the end of the session, dealers said.

It was the first time the US dollar closed above the NT$30 mark since Aug. 26, when it ended at NT$30.026.

Market sentiment remained cautious ahead of the release of US non-farm payroll data scheduled for later in the day in the hopes of gaining a better understanding about the US economy, dealers said.

ECB President Mario Draghi lowered the benchmark refinancing and deposit rates on Thursday to 0.05 percent and minus-0.2 percent respectively, weakening the euro 1.6 percent in the biggest drop since November 2011.

US Fed Chair Janet Yellen told central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, last month that US policymakers might raise interest rates sooner than investors anticipate amid labor- market gains.

“The euro-dollar moved so much, obviously you will have a reaction in dollar-Asia,” said Andy Ji, a Singapore-based currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. “Once the market digests the big euro-dollar move, next week we’ll see Asian currencies being supported.”

The won completed its biggest weekly loss in more than a month before the three-day Chuseok holiday starting Sept. 8.

“The globally strong [US] dollar triggered by the ECB meeting will affect the won,” said Park Daebong, a Seoul-based currency trader for Nonghyup Bank.

Elsewhere in Asia this week, the Philippine peso declined 0.1 percent to 43.662 per dollar, while China’s yuan strengthened 0.03 percent to 6.1412, India’s rupee rose 0.1 percent to 60.445 and the Vietnamese dong was steady at 21,195.

Draghi’s unprecedented easing policies also sent the euro on the longest weekly losing streak in the shared currency’s 15-year history. The European currency dropped 1.4 percent to US$1.2951 this week in New York trading and touched US$1.2920, the lowest level since July last year. The eight-week losing streak is the longest since the euro began trading in 1999.

The euro fell for a second week against the yen, declining 0.4 percent to ¥163.11.

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