Aug, 21(Agencies) — Asian currencies edged lower on Monday after China surprised markets with a modest cut in lending rates, while Thailand’s economy grew at a much slower-than-expected pace.
Indonesian rupiah led losses in the region, depreciating 0.3%, while the Malaysian and Singaporean currencies fell marginally.
Bucking the trend, the Thai baht appreciated 0.4%, posting its best day since July 27, even as growth moderated in the second quarter.
“No cut on 5-year LPR (loan prime rate) is a big surprise and this may further lead to lower expectations on the cut of existing mortgage rate, given no rate cut on 5-year LPR already indicated the big NIM (net interest margin) pressure the banks are facing,” said Willer Chen, research analyst at Forsyth Barr Asia. “China’s sputtering economy needs a jolt, but options remain limited.
PBOC is leery of easing with China already facing massive debt risk… increasing USD rate disparity will only increase the pressure on yuan, “ said Brock Silvers, chief investment officer at private equity firm Kaiyuan Capital.
Meanwhile, Southeast Asian economies are showing signs of weakness, growing at slower-than-expected pace in the second quarter amid shrinking global demand.
In Thailand, the government trimmed its 2023 GDP growth outlook to between 2.5% and 3.0% from 2.7% to 3.7%.
“Thailand’s economic recovery continues to face multiple headwinds at least in the near term, including lingering political uncertainties, delayed budget disbursement, weak external demand, and unfavourable weather,” analysts at ANZ wrote in a note.
Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy is due to vote for a new prime minister on Tuesday to end months of political deadlock following a May election.
“The incoming parliamentary vote on the new PM could potentially cause more volatility for Thai assets, foreign fund flows and ultimately the THB since it might not go as smooth as it should be,” said Poon Panichpibool, markets strategist at Krung Thai Bank.
Most stocks in the region traded sideways, with the benchmark Philippine index leading losses, slipping over 1% to its lowest in nine months.