Optimism on Beijing trade talks lifts most Asian currencies

BENGALURU: Most emerging Asian currencies rose marginally on Wednesday against a softer dollar as increased optimism that China and the United States might reach a trade deal whetted investor appetites for riskier assets. 

Officials of the two nations continued trade talks in Beijing for an unscheduled third day, amid signs of progress on issues including purchases of U.S. farm and energy commodities as well as increased access to China's markets.

This week's meetings are the first face-to-face talks since U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in December to a 90-day truce in the trade war that's roiled global financial markets.

"The risk appetite received a boost as extension of US-China trade talks into the third day was interpreted as good progress.

On forex, the dollar is on a softer footing today against most trade," said Maybank in a note on Wednesday.

However, some analysts remained cautious.

"The global economic slowdown still hangs over the markets and will keep a lid on the exuberance," Chris Weston, head of research at Melbourne-based retail foreign-exchange broker Pepperstone, said in a note.

The Korean won appreciated as much as 0.5 percent, to 1,118.70 against the dollar, before gains were pared. 

The South Korean currency lost about half a percent on Tuesday after Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, the  world's biggest maker of smartphones and semiconductors, estimated a 29 percent drop in October-December operating profit. 

The Chinese yuan firmed as much as 0.3 percent to 6.834 against the dollar.
The Thai baht gained 0.2 percent. The Singapore dollar and Taiwan dollar also firmed slightly.
The Indian rupee bucked the trend, weakening as much as 0.3 percent in its second consecutive session of losses as higher oil prices put pressure on the world's sixth largest economy, a net importer of the commodity.
Oil prices rose on Wednesday, extending gains from the previous session on hopes for the Beijing trade talks.

Brent crude futures were up 42 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $59.14 per barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures topped $50 a barrel for the first time this year. - Reuters

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