Asian currencies firm as dollar eases on benign US inflation print

June 13, 2024 - 1:46 PM
File photo of foreign exchange. (The STAR/KJ Rosales)
  • Taiwanese stocks hit record high
  • India stocks touch all-time high
  • Taiwan likely to keep rates unchanged – Reuters poll
  • Fed projects one rate cut this year

Most Asian currencies and stocks gained on Thursday, as the dollar weakened on softer-than-expected U.S. inflation data, while the Federal Reserve signaled interest rates would be kept higher for longer and pushed out the start of cuts to December.

The South Korean won <KRW=KFTC> was among the top gainers in the region, advancing as much as 0.7%, helped by the benign U.S. inflation print, while the Malaysian ringgit <MYR=> rose 0.3%.

Among equities, stocks in Seoul <.KS11> jumped 1.4% to hit their highest level since March 26, while Singapore <.STI> and the Philippine <.PSI> benchmark indexes jumped 0.5% and 0.4%, respectively.

On Wednesday, data showed U.S. consumer prices were unexpectedly flat in May, while the Fed held its rate and delayed the start of policy easing until possibly December.

Policymakers’ median projection of the number of rate cuts this year dropped to just one, from three in March, irking investors.

“We still see upside risks for the dollar index, given that we remain in an uncertain transitory period on inflation and markets may continue to be cautious,” analysts at Maybank said.

“The Fed staying higher for longer is also going to do no favours for Asian FX with dot plots now indicating only one cut this year.”

The Thai baht <THB=TH> was down 0.1%, while stocks <.SETI> rose 0.2%.

“While the Bank of Thailand (BoT) kept its policy rate unchanged at 2.50% as anticipated, there was a shift in the vote split, with one dissenter calling for a 25 bp cut versus two at the last two meetings,” analysts at ANZ said.

“The vote split and policy messaging suggest the window for an easing pivot has narrowed. However, considering the rising political uncertainties and the potential implications for fiscal policy implementation… it is still too soon to rule out a rate cut this year.”

Taiwan’s central bank is anticipated to maintain its policy rate steady later in the day and will likely continue doing so until late next year as it deals with persistent inflation concerns, according to a Reuters poll.

Taiwan’s benchmark <.TWII> jumped 1% to hit a record high, while the Taiwanese dollar <TWD=TP> rose 0.2%.

Elsewhere in Asia, India’s retail inflation rate decreased somewhat in May, aided in part by a decline in gasoline prices despite high food prices, government data released on Wednesday showed.

India stocks <.NSEI> jumped 0.7% to hit a record high, while the rupee <INR=IN> was flat. [.BO]


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Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0359 GMT

—Reporting by Adwitiya Srivastava in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich