Asian currencies subdued; ringgit slightly stronger


  • Forex
  • Monday, 4 Feb 2019

BENGALURU: The Indian rupee skidded against the dollar on Monday, while most other Asian currencies edged down in muted trade as the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays kept volumes low.  
    
Many of the regional currencies were unable to shake off Friday's losses after China's factory activity contracted the most in almost three years, further fuelling concerns about demand from Asia's largest economy.
    
However, the market holidays in the region saw very tight trading ranges.  
    
The Indian rupee was an exception, losing about 0.6 percent on the dollar to its weakest level since mid-December.

Much of the pressure on the rupee has come from concerns about the country's budget deficit after the government delivered a voter-friendly interim budget on Friday.
    
Economists warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pre-election budget, which includes handouts for farmers and tax cuts for the lower middle class, is likely to weigh on whoever forms the next administration.
    
"In a nutshell, negative investor reactions dominated in the face of more optimistic than expected revenue projections and higher than expected borrowing plans, fuelling fiscal slippage concerns," OCBC said in a research note. 
    
An uptick in oil prices also weighed on the rupee, owing to India's large fuel bill.
    
The oil price impact was also seen on the Indonesian rupiah, which was off 0.36 percent to the dollar. Southeast Asia's biggest economy imports a sizable quantity of fuel. 
    
Going in the other direction was the Malaysian ringgit, up slightly on the dollar. The country exports petroleum products so higher oil prices generally support its currency.

Malaysian markets had shortened trading hours for the day.
    
The Singapore dollar inched about 0.2 percent lower against the greenback. Markets in the city state, which also shut off on a shortened trading session for the day, will be closed for the Lunar new year holidays on Tuesday and Wednesday.
    
The Chinese yuan, South Korean won, Taiwan dollar did not trade due to the market holidays. - Reuters

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