South Korea’s won rallied for a fourth week, leading gains among Asian currencies, after the US Federal Reserve expanded its monetary stimulus. The yuan fell the most in five months after China’s export growth slowed.
The won had its biggest gain in eight weeks as exchange data showed foreign investors bought US$1.2 billion more in local stocks than they sold over the past week, the largest net inflows since September. The Fed on Wednesday said it would buy US$45 billion a month of US Treasuries starting next month, in addition to US$40 billion a month of existing mortgage-debt purchases.
“Asian currencies are strengthening as the region is likely to receive more foreign funds after the Fed’s move,” Hana Bank currency dealer Lee Jin-ill said.
The won appreciated 0.6 percent this week to 1,074.68 per US dollar in Seoul, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Indonesia’s rupiah rose 0.2 percent to 9,638, Thailand’s baht climbed 0.2 percent to 30.63 and the New Taiwan dollar advanced 0.1 percent to NT$29.102 after moving between NT$29.037 and NT$29.139 before the close of trading on Friday. Global funds plowed more than US$2 billion into stock markets in India, Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand this week.
The yuan fell for a third week, losing 0.2 percent to 6.2436 versus the US dollar. It has weakened 0.3 percent since reaching a 19-year high of 6.2223 on Nov. 27. China’s export growth slowed to 2.9 percent from 11.6 percent last month, while industrial production and retail sales had their biggest gains since March, data showed in the past week.
South Korea last month tightened restrictions on the amount of currency forward positions banks are allowed to hold as won gains pose a risk to exports. South Korean Vice Finance Minister Shin Je-yoon on Tuesday said the government is concerned about herd behavior in won trading and moves in “one direction” will be the most important factor in making a decision on whether to tighten the management of capital flows.
The Philippine peso fell 0.4 percent this week to 41.090 per US dollar, trimming this year’s advance to 6.7 percent. Elsewhere, India’s rupee closed at 54.485 per US dollar, little changed from 54.475 on Dec. 7. Malaysia’s ringgit ended the week at 3.0573, from 3.0578 on Dec. 7, and Vietnam’s dong was also steady at 20,848. Singapore’s dollar fell less than 0.1 percent to S$1.2214.
The yen slumped for a fifth week against the US dollar, the longest streak since March, due to Japanese opposition leader and former prime minister Shinzo Abe, an advocate of unlimited monetary stimulus, being projected to win today’s elections.
The 17-nation euro gained against all of its major peers after EU finance ministers agreed to put the European Central Bank in charge of the area’s lenders.
The US dollar fell against most of its most-traded peers as the Fed said it would buy an additional US$45 billion of US Treasuries a month, which may debase the currency.
The yen reached an almost nine-month low as the Bank of Japan said its tankan index for large companies fell to its lowest level since March 2010.
The yen fell 1.3 percent this week to ￥83.52 per US dollar in New York, completing the longest stretch of declines since the period ended on March 16. It reached its lowest level since March 21. The Japanese currency decreased 3 percent to ￥109.90 per euro after falling to its weakest level since April. The euro added 1.8 percent to US$1.3163, reaching the strongest level since May 4.
Japan’s currency has fallen 11.6 percent this year, the most out of its major peers, according to the Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Indexes, which track 10 developed-nation currencies. The US dollar has been the second-worst performer, losing 3.1 percent. The euro has declined 1.4 percent, while the New Zealand dollar has been the best performer, rising 6.5 percent.
The Dollar Index, which measures the currency against the euro, yen, pound, Swiss franc, Canadian dollar and Swedish krona, ended the week down 1.1 percent to 79.561.