Ringgit rises most in two weeks on Yellen rate outlook comments

[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia's ringgit rose along with Asian stocks and bonds after the Federal Reserve signaled the first interest-rate increase since 2006 is more likely to come in the second half of the year.

The US central bank's pledge to be "patient" on beginning to raise the benchmark rate means an increase is unlikely for "at least the next couple" of meetings, Fed Chair Janet Yellen told the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday. The ringgit, which has dropped 13 per cent in six months, is undervalued and should return to its fundamentals, Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz told reporters Tuesday.

"When the rate hike isn't going to happen in the next couple of meetings, generally it's bullish equities and it's a risk-on environment," said Wong Chee Seng, a foreign-exchange strategist at AmBank Group in Kuala Lumpur. "So that would give some comfort to the market." The ringgit strengthened 0.6 per cent, the most since Feb 13, to 3.6210 a dollar as of 9.54 am in Kuala Lumpur, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. One-month implied volatility, a measure of exchange-rate risk used in pricing options, dropped 16 basis points to 10.43 per cent. That's the biggest decline since Feb 9.

The yield on three-year sovereign bonds fell one basis point, or 0.01 percentage point, to 3.43 per cent, the lowest level since November 2013, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The yield on 10-year debt retreated one basis point to 3.87 per cent.


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