Asian FX slightly weakens

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    Most emerging Asian currencies trod water on Thursday, amid fears that efforts to end the US-China trade war could suffer as Beijing threatened “counter measures” after US President Donald Trump signed legislation backing protesters in Hong Kong.

    “All eyes will be on what kind of responses China would muster, and whether it would derail the trade negotiations,” analysts at OCBC Bank in Singapore said in a note.

    Export-focused South Korean won, among the most vulnerable to developments on the trade front, depreciated 0.2 percent to its weakest level against the dollar in nearly a month.

    Focus will now turn to a Bank of Korea policy meeting on Friday, when it is widely expected to stand pat, a Reuters poll showed.

    Meanwhile, a separate poll showed another month of double-digit contraction for South Korea’s exports in November.

    China’s onshore yuan was largely flat against the dollar, despite a firmer fixing by the central bank.

    The Singapore dollar and Malaysian ringgit eased 0.1 percent each, while the Thai baht was flat.

    Thailand’s central bank governor on Thursday expressed concern about the rapid strengthening of the baht, and said the central bank has steadily taken action to prevent the currency from rising too fast.

    Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said that while there were no clear measures yet, the central bank may consider allowing more non-banks to compete in the market.

    The Philippine peso was among the few outliers, strengthening 0.2 percent after two days of declines.

    The Indian rupee weakened 0.2 percent on the day, ahead of the release of July-September economic growth figures on Friday.

    Two television channels reported on Wednesday, citing government sources, the growth would slow to around 4.0 percent. The Indian economy expanded 5.0 percent in the April-June quarter, which was more than a six-year low.

    “Banking and real estate sectors need to improve for INR outlook to improve meaningfully.

    In the short term, inflows and those hunting for yields could still keep INR supported,” Christopher Wong, senior FX Strategist at Maybank Singapore said.

    A Reuters poll expects the Indian economy to expand 4.7 percent in the second quarter, and the Reserve Bank of India to cut interest rates in December for a sixth time this year, though it may only have a limited impact on the economy. –Reuters