Asian currencies drift lower; Indonesian rupiah hits 5-wk low
Asian currencies drifted lower on Wednesday as the US dollar held onto its gains after upbeat retail sales data suggested the economy continued to gain momentum in the third quarter, reinforcing the possibility of another rate hike by the Federal Reserve this year.

US retail sales recorded their biggest increase in seven months in July, as consumers boosted purchases of motor vehicles and raised discretionary spending. Easing political concerns over North Korea allowed markets to refocus on the US economic growth, Mizuho Bank said in a note.

The dollar index was marginally lower at 0.04 per cent at 0512 GMT, but held on to most of it gains.

Investors will watch out for minutes from the Feds July meeting to be released later in the day, for clues on the timing of rate he likes. Among regional currencies, the Philippine peso hit a fresh 11-year low before trading marginally higher. The South Korean won was down 0.25 per cent on resumption of trade on Wednesday. The South Korean market was closed for liberation day on Tuesday. On Monday, the currency had risen 0.3 per cent after having fallen to its lowest in a month on Friday.

South Koreas finance minister said on Wednesday the government will act to stabilise financial markets if they become more volatile because of tensions between Pyongyang and Washington, but noted markets are already showing signs of stability.

On Tuesday, North Koreas leader had said he would delay decision on launching missiles at Guam, partly easing tensions with the United States.


The Indonesian rupiah hit its lowest since July 11 and was last down 0.11 per cent.

On Wednesday, President Joko Widodo is set to propose to parliament a 2018 state budget with a fiscal deficit of 2.19 per cent of gross domestic product, the Bisnis Indonesia newspaper reported, citing a document.

The focus will be on the tension between his infrastructure spending plans and a widening budget deficit. With the budget deficit projected to widen to 2.9 per cent of gross domestic product, there may be limited fiscal means to drive growth without an increase in borrowing, OCBC Bank said in a note.


The Thai baht was flat after having declined 0.12 per cent earlier ahead of a central bank rate decision later in the day.

The central bank is expected to stand pat on its benchmark interest rate at 1.50 per cent, a Reuters poll showed, as inflation is benign and the economy is improving but high levels of household debt remain a worry.

Earlier this month, official data had shown that annual headline consumer prices rose slightly in July, leaving the central bank plenty of room to keep interest rates near record lows.

The baht has appreciated 7.6 per cent year-to-date amid large portfolio inflows, Qi Gao from Scotiabank said in a note.

However, an excessively strong baht is not in local regulators interest. The currencys outperformance has spurred concern as it could hurt the export-hubs competitiveness, Scotiabank said.

Source : The Economic Times

Aug 19, 2017

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