Most currencies subdued, South Korean won leads declines

* Indian rupee on track for 6th straight weekly gain
* Malaysia's Feb CPI falls 0.4 pct y/y
* Indonesian rupiah set to gain 0.7 pct this week

(Adds text, updates prices)
By Shriya Ramakrishnan
March 22 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies were subdued on
Friday as investors locked in gains from the previous session
after U.S. Federal Reserve affirmed a dovish stance at its
policy meeting this week.
The South Korean won, which was on track to firm
0.6 percent this week, was the region's biggest loser on the
day, weakening 0.3 percent against the dollar.
South Korea's central bank chief said on Thursday the Fed
decision to abandon any interest rate hikes this year eased
uncertainties for policymakers in Seoul.
But he added it was too early to discuss cutting interest
rates in Asia's fourth largest economy due to the lack of
clarity on Brexit and China's slowing economy.
Among other currencies, Indonesia's rupiah
depreciated slightly against the dollar, but was poised to
record a weekly gain of 0.7 percent.
Bank Indonesia kept its benchmark rate on hold on Thursday
to maintain financial stability, and tweaked some rules to
encourage more lending.
"We expect Bank Indonesia to continue supporting IDR
liquidity to cushion the banking sector from the impacts of the
aggressive tightening in 2018," said Eugenia Fabon Victorino,
Head of Asia Strategy at SEB Markets.
The central bank said its guidance on the
financing-to-funding ratio for commercial banks would move to a
84-94 percent range, from 80-92 percent, effective July 1.

The Malaysian ringgit was largely unchanged after
data showed the economy remained in deflation for a second
straight month in February due to lower fuel prices.

Bucking the trend, the Indian rupee, which resumed
trading after a public holiday, strengthened up to 0.4 percent,
and is on track to record its sixth straight weekly gain.
"It is just playing catch-up with on-shore players getting
back into the market and reacting to the Fed as the currencies
did on Thursday," said Mitul Kotecha, Senior Emerging Markets
Strategist at TD Securities.

THE PHILIPPINE PESO
The Philippine peso strengthened as much as 0.2
percent after Bangko Sentral Pilipinas (BSP) kept its benchmark
interest rate steady for a third straight meeting on Thursday.
The central bank also cut its average inflation forecast for
this year to 3.0 percent, down from its previous forecast of
3.07 percent.
BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said a further cut in
the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves is always on
the table, but needs careful study before an adjustment is
considered.
The reserve requirement for banks was cut twice last year to
18 percent.
The peso is among the region's worst performers so far this
year, and has weakened on the back of a cut in 2019 GDP forecast
and the possibility of cuts in the reserve requirement ratio.

The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against
the dollar at 0529 GMT.
CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR

Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move
Japan yen 110.830 110.8 -0.03
Sing dlr 1.349 1.3489 -0.02
Taiwan dlr 30.800 30.816 +0.05
Korean won 1130.600 1127.7 -0.26
Baht 31.710 31.67 -0.13
Peso 52.500 52.59 +0.17
Rupiah 14155.000 14135 -0.14
Rupee 68.610 68.82 +0.31
Ringgit 4.058 4.06 +0.05
Yuan 6.704 6.6998 -0.07

Change so far in 2019
Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move
Japan yen 110.830 109.56 -1.15
Sing dlr 1.349 1.3627 +1.00
Taiwan dlr 30.800 30.733 -0.22
Korean won 1130.600 1115.70 -1.32
Baht 31.710 32.55 +2.65
Peso 52.500 52.47 -0.06
Rupiah 14155.000 14375 +1.55
Rupee 68.610 69.77 +1.69
Ringgit 4.058 4.1300 +1.77
Yuan 6.704 6.8730 +2.51


(Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru, Additional
reporting by Niyati Shetty; editing by Darren Schuettler)



First Published: 2019-03-22 03:42:54
Updated 2019-03-22 08:04:47


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