Emerging Markets - Asian forex steady, stocks jump on firmer US rate cut bets

BANGKOK (Reuters): Asian currencies were broadly steady and stocks gained on Monday as firmer expectations of a US rate cut later this year lifted sentiment, while investors looked ahead to a string of inflation reports from the region this week.

The US personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index data - the Fed's preferred inflation measure - increased 0.3% in April, data showed on Friday, after gaining at the same pace in March.

Another set of softer U.S. data readings would give markets greater confidence in pricing in more Federal Reserve cuts, said Christopher Wong, a currency strategist at OCBC.

"This in turn should support sentiment in Asian FX while USD trades on the back foot."

The South Korean won advanced 0.6%, spearheading some modest gains in regional currencies. The currency was set for its biggest intraday gain in three weeks.

The Indian rupee rose 0.5%, while stocks jumped to record highs, a day before a crucial election outcome where current Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is widely expected to secure a third term.

Most regional markets remained cautious ahead of a week full of inflation prints from emerging Asian economies, including Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines, as central banks in the region take a wait-and-see approach in response to any policy easing moves by the Fed. Traders are pricing in a 53% chance of the Fed cutting rates in September and anticipate 37 basis points of easing this year.

Among other equities, Taiwanese and South Korean shares rose as much as 2% each in early trade, driven by a softer US data on Friday.

The indexes eyed their best sessions since April 24 and May 7, respectively. Indonesia's benchmark index also jumped 1.5%, as inflation eased more than expected in May and stayed within the central bank's target range.

ING analysts had earlier said Bank Indonesia (BI) "could be open to further tightening should IDR weakness persist and inflation trend closer to the top end of the central bank's 1.5%-3.5% target."

In China, Caixin data showed manufacturing activity grew at the fastest pace in two years in May, contrasting with a previous official survey showing an unexpected fall in manufacturing activity.

The yuan was subdued at 7.2455 per U.S. dollar after the data. Stocks in Shanghai slipped 0.5%.

In other emerging markets, the Mexican peso rose over 0.5% at 16.95 per U.S. dollar in early Asian hours following a landslide victory by Claudia Sheinbaum to become the country's first female president. Markets in Thailand and Malaysia were closed for public holidays. - Reuters

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Emerging Markets , Forex , Steady


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