Indonesia's rupiah rallies as Jokowi poised for re-election; others muted
By Shriya Ramakrishnan
April 18 () - Indonesia's rupiah strengthened on Thursday after early election results indicated a second term for incumbent Joko Widodo, but most other Asian currencies were subdued ahead of the long Easter weekend holiday.
A quick count of Wednesday's election results showed Widodo winning the popular vote with at least 54 percent, giving him a lead of around eight percentage points over former general Prabowo Subianto, who was narrowly defeated by Widodo in the last election five years ago.
"Should official results confirm Jokowi's win, the rupiah should remain buoyed by expectations of policy continuity and acceleration in infrastructure spending together with further fiscal policies to tame the twin deficits," Maybank said in a note.
However, reduced volatility ahead of holidays in the region kept most other Asian currencies confined to very tight trading ranges.
"Investors may want to close their positions before the long weekend, so I think there could be more closing position activity rather than opening a new position," said Margaret Yang Yan, a market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore.
The Thai baht weakened 0.1 percent, while the Singapore dollar edged lower.
The Indian rupee which resumed trading after a public holiday, firmed 0.3 percent. Indians began voting in the second phase of general elections, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emerged as a frontrunner.
Elections in the world's largest democracy began last week, with official results expected on May 23.
The Malaysian ringgit was on track to extend declines for a third straight session, dropping 0.2 percent against the greenback.
The ringgit and Malaysian bonds have weakened on worries that the country's debt may be removed from a key global bond index, which could see billions of dollars leave its shores.
The Chinese yuan eased off a one-month high against the dollar, as some companies took advantage of a much stronger yuan midpoint to load up on the greenback. CNY/
S.KOREA WON DIPS AFTER C.BANK CUTS GROWTH FORECAST
The South Korean won eased 0.1 percent after the central bank cut its 2019 growth forecast to a seven-year low while keeping its policy rate unchanged.
Bank of Korea also lowered its inflation forecast for the year down to 1.1 percent from 1.4 percent earlier, bolstering views it may cut rates soon.
The downgrades come as the trade-reliant economy is facing increasing pressure from sluggish exports and a stagnant property market.
A slowing global economy and abrupt end to U.S. Federal Reserve policy tightening has led to growing expectations of rate cuts or easier policy stance across Asia.
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