Asian FX strengthens

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    Asia’s trade-reliant currencies gained against the dollar, as Britain won European Union approval for a no-delay divorce deal and China expressed confidence about clinching a phased trade pact with the United States.

    China’s Commerce Ministry said on Thursday it hopes to reach a phased agreement with the United States and cancel tariffs as soon as possible, adding that trade wars had no winners.

    That came as a relief to market participants after the new measures passed by the US House of Representatives earlier this week related to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong were expected to put some strain on the trade talks.

    Meanwhile, European Union leaders gave their unanimous backing to a Brexit deal with Britain on Thursday, putting the onus on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to secure the British parliament’s approval for the deal in a vote in two days’ time.

    “The bigger driver has been the positive spillover effect from UK getting close to a Brexit deal,” said Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at ANZ in Singapore.

    “The ongoing phase-1 deal between the US and China is still contributing towards a bit more optimism for Asian currencies.”

    Leading the gains in Asia, the South Korean won rose 0.5 percent against the dollar and was on track for a third consecutive weekly advance.

    Among other export-reliant currencies, the Taiwanese dollar and the Thai baht rose 0.24 percent and 0.13 percent, respectively.

    On other hand, China’s yuan inched lower after economic growth slowed more than expected to 6.0 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the weakest pace in at least 27-1/2 years.

    “The economic data surprised a bit… But that was not material enough to cause too much of a concern,” said ANZ’s Goh.

    “But we did have some improvement in industrial production. So that helped to offset some of the disappointment in the GDP numbers.”

    China’s industrial output grew a better-than-expected 5.8 percent in September, faster than the 17-year-low posted in August.

    Lower oil prices pressured the Malaysian ringgit, while fiscal and economic worries pulled down the Indian rupee. Both currencies shed about 0.1 percent on the day.

    India is likely to miss its fiscal deficit target of 3.3 percent of gross domestic product for the current financial year by 30-50 basis points, two sources said, due to a sharp slowdown in the economy that has severely crimped tax collection goals. – Reuters

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