EM ASIA FX-Asian currencies feel pressure as yuan hits 11-1/2 year low

Credit: REUTERS/© Lee Jae Won / Reuters

Most emerging Asian currencies came under pressure on Tuesday, with the yuan hitting a fresh 11-11/2 year low as anxiety over the recent escalation in the Sino-U.S. trade war persisted.

By Rashmi Ashok

Aug 27 (Reuters) - Most emerging Asian currencies came under pressure on Tuesday, with the yuan hitting a fresh 11-11/2 year low as anxiety over the recent escalation in the Sino-U.S. trade war persisted.

Some currencies strengthened, led by the Korean won and Indian rupee, which pared much of their losses on Monday when Asian units, except the baht, were weak.

Sentiment remained shaky even after U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday flagged the possibility of a trade deal with China and said he believed Beijing was sincere in its desire to reach an agreement.

"It remains to be seen whether or not Trump's comments prove to be green shoots or a false dawn over the prospects of a meaningful US-China trade deal," said Han Tan, market analyst at FXTM, a foreign-exchange trader.

"The risk-on sentiment may prove fleeting, given that new and heightened tariffs are set to be imposed on US and Chinese goods by next week," he added.

China's yuan weakened for the ninth straight session to a fresh 11-1/2-year low, despite a brief rebound in early trade following a much stronger-than-expected midpoint set by the central bank.

The onshore spot yuan CNY=CFXS weakened as much as 0.2% to 7.165 against the dollar.

The drop put pressure on other currencies, with the Malaysian ringgit MYR=, Philippine peso PHP= and Singapore dollar SGD= all trading weaker.

The won KRW=KFTC and rupee INR=IN, which both lost more than 0.6% on Monday, were the big gainers.

The won added 0.5%, while the rupee strengthened to as much as 71.710 against the dollar to crawl out of the 8-month trough it hit on Monday.

YUAN PRESSURE VALVE

The yuan's fall to a 11-1/2 year low came despite the People's Bank of China (PBOC) setting its official yuan midpoint at 7.0810 per dollar, which was weaker than the previous fix but firmer than expected.

The fix was seen as an official attempt to prevent the currency from registering sharper losses.

FXTM's Han Tan said the PBOC is in a tricky spot, having to navigate a fine line tolerating more yuan weakness in order to offset economic headwinds.

The PBOC must ensure it doesn't cede too much ground to yuan bears so as to trigger capital outflows, he said.

"Overall, the softer CNY is playing its role as a pressure valve that eases China's economic pressures, hence the yuan is expected to maintain an easing bias over the near-term."

This year, the yuan has shed slightly over 4% and is the region's worst performer after the Korean won.

The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0524 GMT.

CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR

Currency

Latest bid

Previous day

Pct Move

Japan yen

105.680

106.12

+0.42

Sing dlr

1.390

1.3884

-0.09

Taiwan dlr

31.388

31.451

+0.20

Korean won

1212.300

1217.8

+0.45

Baht

30.590

30.595

+0.02

Peso

52.460

52.38

-0.15

Rupiah

14240.000

14235

-0.04

Rupee

71.805

72.02

+0.30

Ringgit

4.206

4.201

-0.12

Yuan

7.161

7.1520

-0.12

Change so far in 2019

Currency

Latest bid

End 2018

Pct Move

Japan yen

105.680

109.56

+3.67

Sing dlr

1.390

1.3627

-1.94

Taiwan dlr

31.388

30.733

-2.09

Korean won

1212.300

1115.70

-7.97

Baht

30.590

32.55

+6.41

Peso

52.460

52.47

+0.02

Rupiah

14240.000

14375

+0.95

Rupee

71.805

69.77

-2.83

Ringgit

4.206

4.1300

-1.81

Yuan

7.161

6.8730

-4.02

(Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

((Rashmi.Ashok@thomsonreuters.com; +918067491689;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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