FX posts small gains

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    Most Asian currencies notched only small gains on Thursday as the run of conflicting headlines about US-China trade talks dulled emerging market appetite for risky bets.

    US President Donald Trump said talks with China were going “very well,” having only warned a day earlier that a trade deal might not be reached until after the 2020 presidential election.

    “There’s still underlying caution and a lack of clarity to reverse any trade with conviction,” said Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist at Mizuho Bank. “(Investors) are biding their time until the middle of December when you get the best-case scenario of an interim deal or the can gets kicked down to next year.”

    Trump has less than two weeks to make a call before a new round of US tariffs on Chinese goods comes into effect, with his decision set to chart the course of a trade war that has dragged on for 17 months.

    South Korea’s won tacked on 0.3 percent and was set to lead gains, having lost more than 1 percent over the previous seven straight sessions.

    The Philippine peso also strengthened 0.3 percent. The Southeast Asian economy’s inflation quickened for the first time in six months in November, compounding expectations that the central bank would hold interest rates at its next meeting on Dec. 12.

    “The Peso may receive some near-term support as faster inflation means that a BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) rate cut is off the table for now,” ING said in a note.

    China’s yuan was slightly weaker after a boomerang move in the previous session when it fell to a 5-1/2-week low before recovering all of its intraday losses on Trump’s upbeat comments.

    China’s exports data, due on Sunday, is expected to have risen for the first time in four months in November, a Reuters poll showed, though the trade war-instigated slack in demand suggests that a sure-footed turnaround in shipments is some way off.

    Thailand markets were closed for a public holiday. – Reuters