Asia FX strengthens

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    Asian currencies strengthened on Monday, with the South Korean won leading the gains, as growing optimism over a potential Sino-US trade deal and upbeat US jobs data whetted investors’ risk appetite.

    The United States and China both said on Friday that they had made progress in talks aimed at defusing their festering 16-month-long trade war, and US officials said a deal could be signed this month.

    Meanwhile, data released on Friday showed the US job growth slowed less than expected in October and hiring in the prior two months was stronger than previously estimated.

    Those numbers followed a private survey of manufacturers in China that showed better-than-expected factory activity in October.

    “Resilience in the US labor market despite weakness in the manufacturing sector, optimism on China-US trade talks and a perceived receding of hard Brexit risks have led to an improvement in risk appetite, allowing USD strength to ease somewhat,” said Philip Wee, FX strategist at DBS Group in a note.

    Against a basket of six currencies, the dollar was trading at 97.194 having touched a three-month low of 97.107 on Friday.

    The won appreciated as much as 0.6 percent to touch its best level since July 1, building on its recent strength, having posted five successive weekly gains.

    The Taiwanese dollar put on as much as 0.3 percent to its strongest since July 2018.

    There were comparatively significant gains in the Indian rupee and the Chinese yuan as well, advancing up to 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

    The yuan hit its firmest level in more than two-and-a-half months, while the rupee appreciated to 70.56 against the dollar to mark its best level in more than a month.

    The Indonesian rupiah and the Philippine peso strengthened slightly on the day, while the Singapore dollar the Thai baht were relatively little changed.

    The Malaysian ringgit tacked on as much as 0.3 percent to hit its firmest level in nearly three months.

    Investors shrugged off weak September export data, which registers their biggest decline in nearly three years amid subdued demand from major trade partners.

    September’s export numbers came in far lower than analysts’ forecast for a marginal drop of 0.1 percent. The month’s figures were the worst export performance since October 2016, when shipments fell 8.5 percent on-year. – Reuters