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Emerging currencies tumble on sinking sentiment

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 13:31
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Emerging Asian currencies, from the Malaysian ringgit to the South Korean won, weakened Tuesday as falling oil prices and a drop on regional equity markets dampened demand for riskier units.

[TOKYO] Emerging Asian currencies, from the Malaysian ringgit to the South Korean won, weakened Tuesday as falling oil prices and a drop on regional equity markets dampened demand for riskier units.

The oil-linked ringgit slipped to a 10-week low against the US dollar, tumbling 0.8 per cent as weakness in crude prices sparked worries about the country's finances.

The won also fell against the US unit, losing 0.7 per cent, while Indonesia's rupiah shed 0.6 per cent and the Thai baht was down 0.2 per cent.

The Taiwanese and Singapore dollars, and the Philippine peso were also lower.

Traders moved out of the units as markets mull the chances of a US interest rate hike as early as next month. A rate rise would tend to draw investors to a dollar-denominated assets, lifting the US unit.

"The market has been repricing the higher likelihood of a Fed rate hike in June or July," Sim Moh Siong, a foreign-exchange strategist at Bank of Singapore, told Bloomberg News.

"The stock market has sold off across Asia and that's probably adding to the worries over the risk-off" sentiment.

In other trading, the yen held most of its gains after Group of Seven finance chiefs wagged their finger at Tokyo over threats to weaken its currency.

Going into meetings last weekend, host Japan had hoped that its G7 counterparts - the United States, Britain, Germany, Italy, France and Canada - would give it some wiggle room to tame the resurgent yen, as it threatens Japan Inc's profits.

However, the group instead agreed on the "importance of all countries refraining from competitive devaluation", while US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew pressed Tokyo to uphold its earlier commitments not to interfere with exchange rates.

On Tuesday, the dollar bought 109.35 yen, slightly up from 109.25 yen in New York but still well down from 109.84 yen in Tokyo earlier Monday.

The euro barely moved, changing hands at US$1.1215 and 122.60 yen against US$1.1219 and 122.56 yen in US trade.

AFP