A global shift into less risky assets weighed on most Asian currencies on Wednesday, and propped up the US dollar, as new hurdles over Britain’s departure from the European Union kept investors on edge.
US Treasury yields dropped overnight as investors bought safe-haven debt after British lawmakers on Tuesday voted against Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s tight timetable to leave the EU, but agreed to his Brexit plan.
The latest defeat effectively makes it near to impossible for Johnson to stick to his Oct. 31 deadline for Britain to leave the EU with a deal.
Despite dollar strength, some Asian units gained against the pound, which edged lower against the uncertain backdrop.
The Chinese yuan gained 0.3 percent against the pound, while the peso advanced 0.2 percent to sterling.
Elsewhere, consumer prices in Malaysia rose at a slower pace than expected in September, reinforcing some views that the country’s central bank may cut interest rates again this year.
“While inflation continues to be subdued, some weak signals emerged recently from the Malaysian economy, which had otherwise been outperforming the region,” ING said in a note prior to the data, adding that there may be a pre-emptive cut this quarter.
The ringgit eased 0.1 percent against the dollar.
Not far away, Singapore’s core inflation rate rose slightly less in September than it did the previous month, hitting a more than three-year low.
The Singapore dollar also weakened 0.1 percent.
Hopes of a US-China trade deal helped limit losses for the yuan, traders said. The currency edged 0.1 percent lower.
The Philippine peso moved in the other direction, strengthening 0.1 percent.
ING said hefty government spending in September “should be a boost for the economy in the second half of the year. If so, we could imagine the BSP taking a backstep on further policy easing.”
The rupiah was flat on Wednesday, a day after it registered strong gains on the back of reports of the country’s new cabinet that spurred hopes of reforms aimed at boosting growth and investment.
Indonesia’s central bank is expected to cut interest rates on Thursday at its policy meeting.
Markets in Thailand were closed for a holiday.
South Korea’s economy is expected to grow at a slower pace in the third quarter than it did in the second as the trade-reliant nation deals with a prolonged US-China trade war and a diplomatic tussle with neighbor Japan. – Reuters