Most Asian units slip as Sino-U.S. trade tensions spike

Madiha Shakeel August 26, 2019

Most emerging Asian currencies slipped on Monday, tracking the broader sell-off in equity markets, as investors scurried away from risky assets amid intensifying Sino-U.S. trade tensions.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday heaped an additional 5% duty on some $550 billion in targeted Chinese goods, just hours after China unveiled tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods.

The news shook global markets, leading to sharp sell-offs across Asian equities and a slump in crude prices, following Wall Street’s nose-dive on Friday.

“It can probably be assumed that tit-for-tat will be the default strategy in the coming months and reinforces the point that this conflict will probably last for an extended period,” DBS Economics and Strategy noted.

The Korean won, Chinese yuan and Indian rupee were the session’s worst performers, all shedding over 0.6%.

The rupee weakened to as low as 72.170 against the dollar, hovering at an 8-month trough it touched on Friday.

However, the yuan’s losses were curtailed after China fixed the yuan’s midpoint at a relatively steady 7.0570 per dollar, when it had been trading as weak as 7.1850 offshore.

Meanwhile, the Thai baht was the region’s sole gainer, adding 0.4%. OCBC said it expects currencies of countries with a current account deficit such as India, Philippines and Indonesia to remain inherently vulnerable in the current environment.

This leaves the Thai baht more sheltered and in a position to outperform the rest of Asia, it added.

The baht is the region’s top performer this year, gaining 6.4% so far, owing to a weak dollar, strong foreign fund inflows and its large current account surplus.

While the Philippine equity market was closed on account of a holiday, the peso traded marginally lower amid thin volumes, posting the session’s smallest loss.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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