By Roushni Nair
Sept 25 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies struggled for direction on Monday, with the Indonesian rupiah leading losses, after hawkish comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve last week set the stage for further rate hikes and bolstered strength in the U.S. dollar.
The Singapore dollar SGD= and the Indonesian rupiah IDR=, the best-performing currency in the region, depreciated 0.1% each.
The Philippine peso PHP= and the South Korean won KRW=KFTC firmed 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively.
The U.S. dollar index =USD, which on Friday touched an over six-month high, firmed at 105.6 by 0312 GMT as the latest U.S. business activity data highlighted resilience in the world's largest economy.
The Federal Reserve left interest rates at 5.25% to 5.5% on Wednesday but projected higher-for-longer interest rates to bring inflation under the central bank's target of 2%.
In Singapore, surging certificate of entitlement quota premiums for cars likely kept the country's headline inflation in August stable, according to Barclays.
"Base effects from last year's increase in food prices and jump in travel costs likely pushed core inflation slightly lower in August this year," it added.
Meanwhile, the recent jump in crude oil prices has increased concerns about a narrowing current account surplus in net importers like Thailand and India, which could fan inflationary pressures.
Thailand's baht THB=TH and the Indian rupee INR=IN eased 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively.
All eyes now turn to the Bank of Thailand's interest rate decision due on Wednesday.
The central bank is widely expected to leave its key policy rate unchanged at 2.25% marking an end to a year-long tightening cycle, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.
In India, bonds continued to rally after JPMorgan said it would include Indian debt in its widely tracked emerging market debt index, helping the world's fifth-largest economy finance its current account and fiscal deficits.
Stocks in emerging Asia were largely trading mixed, with those in Thailand .SETI, South Korea .KS11 and Malaysia .KLSE slipping more than 0.5%, each.
Shares in Philippines .PSI and Singapore .STI rose 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively.
China stocks .SSEC fell 0.4%, badgered by heavy losses in real estate stocks after shares of China Evergrande 3333.HKplunged as much as 24% as the embattled developer was unable to issue new debt due to an ongoing investigation into one of its units, dealing a fresh blow to its restructuring plans.
** Philippines posts August budget deficit of $2.34 bln
** Sliding yen stokes Bank of Japan intervention threat
** Indonesia coal production to start declining in 2030 - official
Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0348 GMT
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Graphic: World FX rates https://tmsnrt.rs/2RBWI5E
Asian stock markets https://tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4
(Reporting by Roushni Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Miral Fahmy)
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