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Markets

Most Asian currencies weaken on firm dollar, rupiah leads fall

  • The Indonesian rupiah fell as much as 0.5%, as data showed the country's current account deficit widened in the second quarter to 0.8% of its gross domestic product
20 Aug, 2021

Most emerging Asian currencies weakened on Friday, with Indonesia's rupiah falling the most, as the US dollar stayed firm while Singapore stocks rose on the country's plans to ease some COVID-19 border curbs.

The greenback was little changed from a nine-month high touched in the previous session on fears that the Delta coronavirus variant could delay global economic recovery and prospects of an early stimulus tapering by the Federal Reserve.

"For now, we see this as near-term narrative. Central banks are not u-turning on their tightening trajectory just yet," analysts at OCBC wrote in a note.

Most Asian currencies tick lower, South Korea's won slips to 11-month low

The Indonesian rupiah fell as much as 0.5%, as data showed the country's current account deficit widened in the second quarter to 0.8% of its gross domestic product.

Singapore stocks rose as much as 0.9% after the country's aviation regulator said it would allow quarantine-free entry from next month to travellers from certain nations.

The South Korean won fell to an 11-month low, after having weakened in eight of the last nine sessions.

"The authorities have put this down to short-term demand supply imbalances, potentially necessitating BoK (Bank of Korea) intervention to smooth excess volatility," Mizuho Bank analysts wrote in a note.

South Korea's stock benchmark hit its lowest since March-end, and was headed for its worst weekly decline in nearly seven months.

The country has extended social distancing curbs for two weeks to ward off a surge in coronavirus cases.

In the Philippines, the stock benchmark extended gains to a fifth day and the peso strengthened after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the easing of COVID-19 curbs in the capital region.

Malaysian stocks edged higher.

The country's king is expected to announce the appointment of a new prime minister following a meeting with other royal rulers later in the day.

Investors are also looking out for China's benchmark lending rate decision later on Friday.

A Reuters survey expects no changes for the 16th straight month.

"Although signs of slowing economic recovery have fuelled the calls to cut rates, the lending rate is expected to remain unchanged, with some injection of liquidity into the financial system this week through its medium-term loans," Yeap Jun Rong, a market strategist at IG.

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