Geopolitical risks weigh on Asian FX as dollar stays buoyant

  • Thai baht rises despite higher oil prices
  • Indonesia, Thai shares decline
  • Philippine shares gain, c.bank decision later in week

Feb 14 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies were under pressure on Monday, with the Philippine peso slipping the most, as geopolitical risks bolstered the dollar while oil prices jumped on supply concerns.

The Philippine peso slipped 0.3% to mark its worst day in a week while Malaysia's ringgit eased marginally.

The Thai baht appreciated 0.3% despite soaring fuel prices. Thailand is a net oil importer and higher oil costs could widen the country's current account deficit.

Markets have gone on the defensive due to rising tensions over Ukraine, with risk-sensitive Asian markets seeing outflows towards safe-haven assets such as the dollar and gold. read more

"With U.S. intelligence assessments estimating a possible full-scale invasion by Russia into Ukraine soon, ongoing geopolitical developments are likely to keep investors on edge this week and prop up safe haven demand for the dollar," analysts from MUFG Bank said in a research note.

Risk of war in Ukraine along with rising inflation across the globe and winding down of pandemic-era stimulus by major central banks have weighed on Asian markets. Central banks in the region are also poised to raise rates as their economies recover.

The Indonesian rupiah edged 0.1% higher as data showed retail sales in December grew 13.8% from the year before.

In equities markets, shares in Jakarta (.JKSE) and Bangkok (.SETI) slipped between 0.5% and 1.4%, with the Indonesian benchmark falling the most since late January.

South Korea's KOSPI (.KS11) lost about 1.3% after the East Asian nation continued to post record-high COVID-19 cases for the fifth consecutive day, leading to more restrictions and stunting economic growth.

Shares in Manila (.PSI) bucked the trend and gained around 0.6% after the Philippine central bank said it was keen on continuing its record low interest rates to support economic recovery.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is set to outline its monetary policy decision on Thursday, where it is expected to maintain its key interest rate at a record low of 2%.

Highlights

** Indian shares tumble 2% on escalating Ukraine tensions

** In Philippines, top index gainers are Ayala Land Inc (ALI.PS) up 3.4%, Puregold Price Club Inc (PGOLD.PS) up 3%

** Indonesian 10-year benchmark yields rise 1.3 basis points to 6.516%

Reporting by Archishma Iyer; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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