April 21, 2017 / 6:10 AM / 9 months ago

EM ASIA FX-Asian FX edge up, markets wary before French vote; Baht down

 (Adds details, updates prices)
    * Taiwan dollar up after strong March export orders
    * Thai baht underperforms regional currencies
    * Others modestly higher ahead of France's Presidential

    By Aparajita Saxena
    April 21 (Reuters) - Asian currencies were modestly higher
on Friday with trading characterised by caution ahead of the
first round of the French Presidential election this weekend.
     Former French finance minister, Emmanuel Macron maintained
a slim lead in polls, but the election remains a four-way battle
in the first round vote on April 23.
    The yuan, ringgit and rupiah
climbed on Friday.
    Elsewhere, the Taiwan dollar and the South Korean
won rose on the back of solid exports data. 
    Financial markets were firmly focused on the French vote.
Should Macron rank first or second in Sunday's election, he is
seen easily winning the runoff vote on May 7 after remaining
candidates are eliminated.
    However, after surprises in last year's U.S. election and
the Brexit referendum, investors are nervous that the outcome 
could catch markets wrong-footed yet again.
    "Asian currencies are slightly wary of the French
presidential election outcome, but are reacting more to the U.S.
dollar move which is in turn moving on the euro," said Santanat
Wongkaittaworn, Treasury officer with Mizuho Bank Ltd.
    The euro held near a three-week high against the dollar as
some traders closed out bets made on the grounds that the common
currency would fall ahead of or after the election.
    The dollar rose slightly in Asian trading, against a
basket of major currencies. 
    Wongkaittaworn said Asian currencies may appreciate next
week and believes volatility will be contained.
    In other markets, the rupee fell against the dollar
and was on track for a second week of losses.
    The Singapore dollar, however, seemed on track for a
second week of gains ahead of March CPI data on Monday.
    Overall, investors reduced bullish bets on most Asian
currencies and turned bearish on the South Korean won, a Reuters
poll showed, as geopolitical tensions over North Korea dampened
appetite for risk.
    The Taiwan dollar rose 0.23 percent to 30.338 on
the U.S. dollar, building on gains for the second session after
data showed export orders rose for the eight straight month in
    Exports growth was supported by robust demand for components
of Apple Inc's new iPhone and other tech gadgets.
    The currency is on track for a second-week of gains.
    The won rose 0.36 percent to 1135.700 versus the
dollar, and snapped two weeks of losses, after stong exports
     The gain in exports "highlights that recovery in its (South
Korea's) external environment remains on track," an OCBC note
    The baht fell 0.32 percent to 34.370 and was on
track for its worst daily performance in over a month, pressured
by foreign selling in equities and the government bond market.
  Currency          Latest bid  Previous day  Pct Move
  Japan yen        109.200            109.31     +0.10
  Sing dlr         1.397              1.3975     +0.04
  Taiwan dlr       30.338             30.408     +0.23
  Korean won       1135.700           1139.8     +0.36
  Baht             34.370             34.259     -0.32
  Peso             49.745              49.83     +0.17
  Rupiah           13315.000           13322     +0.05
  Rupee            64.580              64.56     -0.03
  Ringgit          4.393               4.396     +0.07
  Yuan             6.879              6.8840     +0.07
  Change so far                                       
  Currency         Latest bid   End 2016      Pct Move
  Japan yen        109.200            117.07     +7.21
  Sing dlr         1.397              1.4490     +3.73
  Taiwan dlr       30.338             32.279     +6.40
  Korean won       1135.700          1207.70     +6.34
  Baht             34.370              35.80     +4.16
  Peso             49.745              49.72     -0.05
  Rupiah           13315.000           13470     +1.16
  Rupee            64.580              67.92     +5.17
  Ringgit          4.393              4.4845     +2.08
  Yuan             6.879              6.9467     +0.99


 (Reporting by Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri
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