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Emerging market assets receive boost from upbeat mood

[TOKYO] Emerging market currencies strengthened against the dollar Thursday, helped by an upbeat mood across Asian equity markets on speculation of increased monetary stimulus.

But the greenback's losses were unlikely to hold as sentiment remained dented on worries over a slowdown in China's economy and concerns over a Federal Reserve plan to hike near-zero interest rates in 2015, analysts said.

The Australian dollar climbed 0.54 per cent to 70.55 US cents today.

"When risk sentiment improves, the euro falls and the Australian dollar rises - it's a classic case of risk-based pattern," Kengo Suzuki, chief currency strategist at Mizuho Securities, told Bloomberg News.

"Right now, it's developed-nation currencies versus emerging and commodities-linked ones which take their cues from stocks that either fuel or ease risk aversion sentiment." The South Korean won gained 0.65 per cent against the dollar after also rising more than one percent on Wednesday. The currency of Asia's fourth-largest economy has weakened about 10 per cent against the greenback from a yearly low in April.

The South Korean central bank has stuck to keeping key interest rates at a record low of 1.5 per cent in recent months, following four reductions since August 2014.

Other Asia-Pacific currencies also rose against the US unit: the Taiwan dollar was up 0.70 per cent, the Indian rupee rose 0.34 per cent, and the Thai baht added 0.14 per cent.

The Singapore dollar declined 0.23 per cent, Malaysia's ringgit was down 0.25 per cent, and the Indonesian rupiah edged 0.12 per cent lower.

With financial markets in China and Hong Kong closed on Thursday for a public holiday, traders will pay attention to US unemployment figures for September, which Washington will release Friday.

A strong reading will likely add to calls on the Fed to raise interest rates, putting renewed pressure on emerging economies as investors withdraw their cash to seek better returns in the US.

A quarterly business survey released by the Bank of Japan today showed Japan's major manufacturers expect the yen to remain relatively weak during the rest of the year. A weakening of the yen supports Japanese exporter shares as it raises their profits on increased sales overseas.

The yen traded almost 3.5 per cent higher against the dollar in Tokyo Thursday compared to a yearly low of 116.17 in January. Japanese manufacturers expected a dollar-yen rate of 117.39 yen for fiscal 2015 in the September Tankan, compared to 115.62 yen in July and 111.81 yen in March.

The US unit rose to 120.22 yen from 119.86 yen Wednesday in New York, while the euro was mixed at US$1.1148 and 134.01 yen from US$1.1176 and 133.95 in US trade.