Asia FX eases

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    Most Asian currencies eased on Thursday after dismal economic data out of China highlighted the fallout from a 16-month trade war with the United States.

    Risk sentiment cooled after industrial production growth in the world’s second-largest economy slowed more sharply than expected in October, while retail sales fell short of prediction and investment growth hit a record low.

    Investors flocked to safe-haven currencies like the Japanese yen and the Swiss franc, sending the dollar lower.

    Martin Lynge Rasmussen, China economist at Capital Economics, said in a note that “further weakness lurks ahead” for the country, adding that “the case for further monetary easing remains intact”.

    The Chinese yuan, however, was little changed as investors kept to the sidelines awaiting more clarity on an interim trade deal between Beijing and Washington.

    The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday reported trade talks between the world’s two top economies have ‘hit a snag’ over farm purchases, with China not wanting a deal that looks one-sided in the favor of the United States.

    South Korea’s won weakened as much as 0.4 percent to a near three-week low, while the Taiwan dollar faltered 0.2 percent.

    The Malaysian ringgit and the Indonesian rupiah were marginally softer.

    The Indian rupee was flat after slipping 0.9 percent in the previous session.

    Data released on Wednesday showed the country’s retail inflation breached the central bank’s medium-term target of 4 percent in October for the first time in 15 months.

    Most economists, however, expect the central bank to look past the inflation figures and cut rates for a sixth straight time next month with economic growth and industrial output sagging to six-year lows.

    The Philippine peso strengthened 0.4 percent to 50.74 against the dollar, as investors expect the central bank to leave interest rates unchanged at its policy meeting later in the day.

    Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will likely pause its easing cycle after stronger-than-expected economic growth in the third quarter and with inflation likely to remain tame in the coming months, a Reuters poll showed.

    “The BSP is expected to be more cautious in further easing as the central bank strives to maintain economic growth while minimizing the risk of building up excessive inflationary pressure,” Mizuho Bank said in a note.

    The central bank has cut its benchmark rate three times by a total of 75 basis points this year, bringing it to 4.0 percent. – Reuters