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Asian currencies stay dull, dollar boosts on Fed’s rate-hike talk

May 23, 2023 at 3:13 pm | Economic Affairs

May. 23 (Agencies) — Asian currencies stayed dull on Tuesday, with dollar getting a boost from rising expectations of US interest rates to remain elevated for longer, while traders awaited the outcome of US debt ceiling talks.
The Thai baht depreciated the most among its peers, falling 0.6%, eyeing losses for a sixth session, and falling to its lowest since March 15.
Indonesian rupiah, Philippines peso, and Singapore dollar were little changed.
South Korean won appreciated 0.4% and its local benchmark rose, buoyed by optimism for a deal on the US debt ceiling negotiations.
While vowing to keep the talks alive, US President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy could not reach an agreement Monday on how to raise the US government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling with just 10 days before a possible default.
“Weakness in Asian FXs is likely due to strength in the dollar after some US Federal Reserve officials still supported tightening monetary policy with a couple of 25 basis point rate hikes or maintaining the Fed Funds Target rate at 5.25% for much longer than what the market has been pricing in,” said Poon Panichpibool, markets strategist at Krung Thai Bank.
In Asia, a Reuters poll showed that Bank Indonesia (BI) was forecasted to keep rates unchanged until the end of 2023 to support the economy amid a softening of the commodity prices that the resource-rich country relies on for growth.
Meanwhile, only a small minority of economists polled forecasted a rate cut this year.
With Indonesia’s core inflation easing and the rupiah strengthening, analysts at Barclays said they see scope for BI to turn opportunistic in cutting the policy rate to support the economy.
Last week, the Philippines central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, kept its benchmark interest rate steady, as expected, and signalled a continued pause in policy tightening for the next two to three meetings.
Later in the day, Singapore will release its April inflation numbers with DBS analysts expecting headline CPI inflation to stay sticky in April at 5.5% higher than a year earlier, after March’s step-down to 5.5%.
Stocks in Asia were largely upbeat with Indonesian and Singapore equities gaining 0.5% and 0.3%, respectively, with Thailand shares dipping 0.3%.

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