* Peso down 0.4 pct; c.bank signals rate hike
* Won stable on exporters; rate freeze may put pressure
(Updates with text, prices)
SINGAPORE, March 2 Asian currencies stayed in
their recent ranges on Wednesday though the Philippines peso
slid despite higher oil prices, but they may come under pressure
if the regional policymakers do not take more steps to stem
inflation, analysts said.
The South Korean won is particularly likely to weaken below
its recent range if the Bank of Korea does not raise interest
rates even after the country's consumer inflation in February
rose faster than expected to hit a 27-month high, they said.
"KRW could worry us if the central bank doesn't act to
contain rising inflation. The central bank's caution can be
perceived as being behind the curve and putting the economy at
risk," said Christopher Gothard, head of FX for Brown Brothers
Harriman in Hong Kong.
"If the central bank doesn't push rates higher that could
see a break of the 1135 level, threatening 1155/60," said
Gothard, adding he prefers the Indonesian rupiah and the
Singapore dollar to the won.
With the recent jump in oil prices, investors had reduced
bets on the Bank of Korea's interest rate hike this month as
higher oil prices may hurt Asia's fourth-largest economy.
Despite higher than expected inflation data along with
stronger export figures on Tuesday, the three-year treasury bond
futures fell merely 0.04 points, although one-year won
interest rate swaps rose to 3.57 percent from
The won lost 0.7 percent against the dollar in February
while the rupiah gained 2.7 percent.
Dollar/won was barely changed as exporters such as
shipbuilders and auto makers sold the pair for settlements.
Daewoo Shipbuilding said it had won a 1.2
trillion won ($1.07 billion) drillship order from Europe,
prompting investors to expect more supplies of dollar/won.
Market players also stayed reluctant to buy the pair on
lingering caution over possible dollar-selling intervention by
the foreign exchange authorities.
Dollar/peso rose as local investors covered
dollar-short positions on higher oil prices, though its gains
were limited by remittance flows, dealers said.
Investors are keeping an eye on the central bank's next move
especially as it abandoned its dovish stance, saying the scope
for keeping rates steady has narrowed with inflation
expectations on the rise, signalling a rate increase may come as
early as this month.
But Philippine Finance Secretary said a policy rate was not
necessary given current conditions.
If the central bank does not increase interest rates,
dollar/peso may rise more as the market has already begun to
price in an increase, a Manila-based dealer said.
CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR
Change on the day at 0620 GMT
Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move
Japan yen 81.92 81.82 -0.12
Sing dlr 1.2721 1.2737 +0.13
Taiwan dlr 29.649 29.660 +0.04
Korean won 1128.10 1128.70 +0.05
Baht 30.53 30.53 +0.00
Peso 43.60 43.44 -0.38
Rupiah 8820.00 8810.00 -0.11
*Rupee 44.94 44.94 +0.00
Ringgit 3.0400 3.0330 -0.23
Yuan 6.5726 6.5703 -0.03
Change so far in 2011
Currency Latest bid End prev year Pct Move
Japan yen 81.92 81.15 -0.94
Sing dlr 1.2721 1.2820 +0.78
Taiwan dlr 29.649 30.368 +2.43
Korean won 1128.10 1134.80 +0.59
Baht 30.53 30.14 -1.28
Peso 43.60 43.84 +0.55
Rupiah 8820.00 9005.00 +2.10
Rupee 44.94 44.70 -0.53
Ringgit 3.0400 3.0820 +1.38
Yuan 6.5726 6.5897 +0.26
* Indian financial markets were closed for a public holiday.
(Additional reporting by Reuters FX Analysts Krishina Kumar;
Editing by Daniel Magnowski)
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Singapore dollar Thai baht
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Philippine peso Korean won
Exotic currencies Non-G7 currencies
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