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Sun, Feb 08, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Asian currencies climb on economic revival efforts

BLOOMBERG AND AFP , NEW YORK

An Asian currency gauge rose for a second week as policy makers stepped up efforts to revive economies reeling from the global recession, raising speculation overseas investors are returning to emerging markets.

Malaysia is prepared to take “radical” steps to boost the economy, the government said on Thursday, while Indonesia a day earlier cut interest rates for a third straight month. Taiwan will offer tax breaks and subsidized loans to lure local investors back from China, which is increasing export tax rebates for textiles. US President Barack Obama urged lawmakers on Thursday to pass his economic stimulus plan or face “catastrophe.”

The Philippine peso capped the biggest weekly advance in a month. India’s rupee had a second week of gains and Malaysia’s ringgit traded at a one-week high as regional stocks rallied.

The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index, which tracks the region’s 10 most-active currencies excluding the yen, rose 0.4 percent for the week to 105.10.

The peso climbed 0.5 percent on Friday to 47.202 per US dollar, a weekly gain of 0.4 percent. India’s rupee advanced 0.3 percent this week to 48.7250 versus the US currency.

Taiwan, China, Malaysia and the Philippines will all issue data on exports next week, with economists surveyed by Bloomberg News forecasting contractions in each nation. The Bank of Korea also meets on interest rates.

The New Taiwan dollar declined this week on speculation falling exports and the slowing economy will deter overseas investors.

Economists are expecting overseas sales from Taiwan slid 48 percent last month, following a 42 percent decline a month earlier, according to a Bloomberg survey before the trade report on Feb. 9.

The central bank may seek to weaken its currency to help exports, said AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), the world’s third-biggest producer of liquid-crystal displays.

The NT dollar fell 0.5 percent this week to NT$33.750 from NT$33.57 on Jan. 23, when local markets closed for the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, according to Taipei Forex Inc.

The South Korean currency rose 0.1 percent to 1,383.80 per dollar, paring this week’s loss to 0.3 percent, as global funds bought more local shares than they sold for an eighth day, the longest run of net purchases since April 2007.

The Chinese yuan was little changed at 6.8360 from a week ago.

The US dollar weakened against the euro on Friday after another horrific set of US employment figures dented its safe-haven allure.

The euro was at US$1.2943 at 10pm GMT, up from US$1.2786 late on Thursday.

The dollar rose to ¥91.83 from ¥91.13. In late New York trading on Friday, the US dollar slipped to 1.615 Swiss francs from SF1.1724 late on Thursday.

The pound rose to US$1.4789 from US$1.4623.

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