January 24, 2018, 1:47 am
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Asian FX steady

Emerging Asian currencies were mostly steady against the dollar on Wednesday, remaining broadly supported as concerns President Donald Trump’s tax overhaul plan could stall kept pressure on the greenback against its major counterparts.

In China, the yuan see-sawed against the greenback, despite the country’s central bank fixing the midpoint at its highest level in three weeks, amid cautious trade in the currency ahead of key national leadership meeting next week.

The dollar index was slightly weaker, near two-week lows, reflecting uncertainty over Trump’s tax overhaul plan. 

Elsewhere in Asia, the Thai baht and the Taiwan dollar strengthened 0.2 percent and 0.5 percent against the dollar respectively.

Financial markets in Taiwan resumed operations after a long weekend on Wednesday, with Taiwan stocks ending the session 1 percent higher.

The Singapore dollar and the Indonesian rupiah posted very minor gains, while the Korean won and Peso fell.

The peso was the only decliner in the previous session after weaker than expected trade data from Philippines.

“The trade deficit data released yesterday did not narrow to $1.58 billion in August from $1.62 billion in the previous as expected by consensus. Instead, it widened to $2.41 billion in August,” DBS Bank said in a note.

In China, traders said authorities are keen to stabilize the yuan with only one week to go until the National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

The spot yuan was 0.02 percent firmer at 6.5806 at 0621 GMT, after the People’s Bank of China set the official yuan midpoint at 6.5841, its biggest one-day strengthening since early June.

The currency firmed 0.65 percent against the dollar in the previous session.

“This morning dollar-yuan fix came in higher than street estimates of the fix, despite the sharp move lower in dollar-offshore yuan and US dollar softness,” said Christopher Wong, an FX strategist with Malayan Banking Berhad.

“That could imply that policymakers may not be comfortable with the sharp one way move yesterday as stability remains key ahead of the 7th Plenary session and the 19th National Congress.”

China’s Communist Party opened a meeting on Wednesday to make final preparations for a key party congress later this month. The party’s constitution will be amended at the end of the congress.

However, a strong fix was partially offset by bank clients taking advantage of cheaper dollars, traders said.

The baht was firm for a third straight session on Wednesday, having recorded its biggest percentage gain since the end of July in the previous session.

The currency got a fillip on Tuesday after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, head of the ruling junta, said Thailand will hold a general election in November 2018, the most precise date he has given yet for the vote since taking power in a 2014 military coup.

Thai shares finished near 24-year closing highs as a result, hovering around the same level on Wednesday. – Reuters 
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