By Tejaswi Marthic
Sep 8 (Reuters) – Most Asian currencies rose in cautious trading Thursday as investors awaited a speech from US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, while the Malaysian ringgit remained stable ahead of an expected rate hike by the country’s central bank.
The Indian Rupee INR=IN rose 0.3% and looked at the best session in a week. The Malaysian ringgit MYR= and Indonesian rupiah IDR= almost 0.1% higher.
While most Asian currencies held steady on Thursday, bearish bets on them hit an all-time high on the back of a rebounding dollar and weakness in the yuan amid worsening COVID-19 lockdowns in China, a Reuters poll showed.
“However, the negative reaction from the US dollar and US Treasury yields may offer some consolation in suggesting that markets may become more accustomed to the story of higher and longer yields,” said IG’s Yeap Jun Rong.
Powell will participate in a discussion at a Cato Institute conference, where rhetoric about rate hikes would generally remain hawkish. FRX/
Malaysia’s central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), is meeting later in the day and is expected to raise its key rate by another 25 basis points to curb price pressures.
While Malaysian inflation exceeded the BNM’s target range, it is still relatively subdued compared to other Southeast Asian countries, allowing the central bank to move at a slower pace.
“There will be a lot of focus on any guidance on the road ahead. While inflation is likely to remain a concern, BNM could start paying more attention to the slower global growth momentum,” OCBC Bank analysts noted.
Shares in Asia rose after tracking gains on Wall Street as benchmark yields on US Treasuries fell, while oil prices stabilized at levels not seen since before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Singapore Stocks .STIE and Indonesia .JKSE were up 0.9% each leading to gains among peers, followed by Philippine equities .PSI, which climbed by 0.6%. Stocks in Malaysia .CLSE and Thailand .SETI also rose.
Oil prices plunged below $90 – something seen only before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February – as dismal trade data from top consumer China fueled investor concerns about recession risks. OR
China’s weak economic data and strict zero-COVID policy added to demand concerns. Crude oil imports fell 9.4% in August from a year earlier, customs data shows.
** The biggest gains on Singapore’s benchmark index are Jardine Cycle & Carriage JCYC.SI and Mapletree Pan Asia Commercial Trust MACT.SI each up 2.2% and Mapletree Industrial Trust MAPI.SIan increase of 1.8%
** Indonesia’s 10-year yield rises 7.268% to its highest point since July 29
**Regions in Indonesia told to curb transportation costs to contain inflation
Asian Stock Indices and Currencies at 0428 GMT
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