Currencies in Asia have begun the week slowly and also with contrasting performances against the FX majors.
Against the dollar, while all of Asia’s ten most active currencies have fallen marginally on Monday morning, many hold slight gains or remain unchanged against the euro. Little movement has been seen against the yen.
The Malaysian ringgit is set to appreciate against the US dollar to 4.1 by the end of next year’s first quarter, according to the team at BMI Research.
The dollar-ringgit exchange rate (USD/MYR) had averaged 4.285 in the months of July and August but has fallen sharply (the ringgit has risen) in the first half of September.
Most Asian currencies ended Wednesday higher against the dollar, albeit on a rather unspectacular day of trading. With a few exceptions, markets traded quietly ahead of the Jackson Hole symposium (24-26 August) at which Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen and ECB President Mario Draghi might give important updates on monetary policy.
The star of the day in Asia was without doubt the Korean won.
Thailand’s baht remains one of Asia’s best performing currencies this year.
Against the US dollar, the baht has gained more than 5% in 2017 and is now buying $0.029, putting it back at 2015 levels.
Against the Japanese yen, although the baht has gained only half as much in percentage terms as it has against the dollar, today’s rate of ¥3.346 marks a seventeen-month high in the baht’s buying power.
The Malaysian ringgit was Asia’s worst performing currency in 2016, having suffered from a slump in the oil price, a general deterioration in Malaysia’s economic outlook and a far-reaching political and economic scandal involving the country’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, and billions of lost dollars from Malaysia’s state development fund.
With that said, in 2017, with most of the doom and gloom behind it, the ringgit does now seem to have turned a corner, having recorded a 3% gain against the dollar in the second quarter – the highest in Asia and well clear of the trailing pack, which include the Chinese yuan (+1.7%) and the Thai baht (+1%).
A rally in the US dollar prompted by moderately hawkish Fed speakers pushed emerging market Asian currencies such as the Thai baht, Philippine peso and Malaysian ringgit lower on Tuesday. Asian currencies from developed economies but which nonetheless remain second tier and under the “emerging” umbrella, such as the Korean won and the Taiwan dollar, also declined.
Having been one of Asia’s worst performing currencies for some time, the Malaysian ringgit has turned a corner recently; a small corner, but a corner nonetheless.
The ringgit is now clearly trending upwards against the US dollar, albeit on low volatility, and is up nearly 6% since lows in mid-November. One ringgit now buys more than $0.233 and MYR/USD remains close to its seven-month high, posted last week.
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