Most emerging Asian currencies weakened, with major oil importers taking the biggest hit, as oil prices surged after tensions escalated in the Middle East.
Brent crude futures jumped nearly $3 to their highest since September on concerns over supply disruption following a US air strike at Baghdad airport that killed key Iranian and Iraqi military personnel.
As a result, South Korean won weakened as the Asian economy is one of the largest crude buyers in the world. It fell 0.8 percent to hit a more than two-week low.
The Philippine peso skid 0.7 percent to mark its worst level in nearly a month.
Both the won and peso were poised to record a weekly loss of 0.5 percent.
“Asian currencies had seen quite moderate gains in December. So, that could be some trigger for profit-taking, especially with renewed geopolitical uncertainty,” Wei-Liang Chang, an FX and Credit macro strategist at DBS Bank said.
The Japanese yen, seen as a safe harbour during times of economic or global tensions due to Japan’s status as the world’s creditor nation notched robust gains against the dollar.
The Indian rupee depreciated 0.4 percent to the dollar, while the Indonesian rupiah also slipped 0.2 percent. India meets about 80 percent of its oil needs through imports, making it highly vulnerable to fluctuations in prices.
Weaker export readings weighed on the Malaysian ringgit, which dipped 0.3 percent. The country’s exports dropped for a fourth straight month in November on lower shipments of manufactured goods and commodities.
The pace of decline was, however, slower than the 6.7 percent fall recorded in October. – Reuters