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Markets

EM ASIA FX Asian units gain on China stimulus hopes, drop in new virus cases

The onshore yuan firmed 0.2pc against the dollar, set for the second straight session of gains. The death toll
11 Feb 2020
  • The onshore yuan firmed 0.2pc against the dollar, set for the second straight session of gains.
  • The death toll from the coronavirus epidemic in mainland China climbed past 1,000 on Tuesday, however, the number of new confirmed cases fell.
  • The Singapore dollar strengthened 0.2pc and was set to end a 11-day losing streak, while the Taiwan dollar also advanced 0.2pc.

Emerging Asian currencies strengthened on Tuesday, as a drop in new coronavirus cases and hopes for more stimulus by Beijing to prop up a virus-stricken economy improved risk appetite.

Chinese policymakers have implemented a raft of measures, including liquidity injections and import tariff exemptions for materials used for epidemic control, to support an economy jolted by the virus outbreak.

"The strengthening of the yuan has flown through to the rest of the Asian currency basket," said Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at ANZ Banking Group (Singapore).

The onshore yuan firmed 0.2pc against the dollar, set for the second straight session of gains.

A Chinese central bank advisor said on Tuesday the People's Bank of China (PBOC) should consider lowering its benchmark deposit rate to enable banks to reduce lending rates and help small businesses.

"As long as the coronavirus outbreak persists, the PBOC will likely adopt a supportive stance with its policy settings. The yuan may also be relied on to help offset the economic pressures on the Chinese economy," said Han Tan, a market analyst at FXTM.

The death toll from the coronavirus epidemic in mainland China climbed past 1,000 on Tuesday, however, the number of new confirmed cases fell.

Currencies of export-focused countries, which have been under selling pressure due to concerns about the economic fallout of the virus outbreak and a stronger dollar, led gains in the region.

Both the South Korean won and the Thai baht appreciated 0.3pc.

The Singapore dollar strengthened 0.2pc and was set to end a 11-day losing streak, while the Taiwan dollar also advanced 0.2pc.

Singapore expects a 25-30pc drop in visitors this year due to the new coronavirus outbreak, with a significant decline in Chinese travel to the city-state expected to extend to other key markets.

The Malaysian ringgit firmed 0.2pc, the most in nearly two weeks.

Focus will now shift to the country's fourth-quarter economic growth figure due on Wednesday, which is expected to slow to its weakest since mid-2016 on lower private consumption and external demand, according to a Reuters poll.

The Philippine peso gained 0.2pc. Data on Tuesday showed the Philippines' trade deficit narrowed to its lowest level in six months in December, due to a surge in exports.

The Indian rupee and Indonesian rupiah edged up 0.1pc each.