Asian FX weakens

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    Most emerging Asian currencies held tight ranges on Friday after a week of back-and-forth headlines on trade, which kept investors firmly on the sidelines.

    Investors held big bets in check pending firmer signs on whether Washington and Beijing could reach an interim deal by Dec. 15, when a new round of US tariffs on Chinese goods is set to take effect.

    “The operative word is uncertainty, and we do expect further jitters next week, with investors likely taking out insurance ahead of the Dec. 15 tariff deadline,” OCBC said in a note.

    China’s yuan slipped slightly lower and was set to notch a small weekly loss, while the Indonesian rupiah and Malaysian ringgit were both 0.2 percent higher.

    While mixed US economic indicators weighed on the dollar, offering a small measure of support for Asian currencies, focus is now on payrolls data, which could provide a clearer read on the health of the world’s largest economy.

    The Philippine peso inched higher, extending gains into a third session after data released earlier this week showed inflation quickening, raising expectations there may be no more rate cuts this year.

    Thailand’s baht declined 0.2 percent a day after trading was closed for a public holiday. The currency extended losses into a fourth straight session and was set to close the week lower.

    Nath Wongsaroj, a corporate treasury trader at Mizuho Bank, said a central bank deputy governor’s comments on Wednesday further pressured the currency.

    Market sentiment has changed and foreign investors now think the baht, Asia’s top performing currency this year, may not rise much further given its strength is out of step with economic fundamentals, Mathee Supapongse said on Wednesday. – Reuters