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Asian currencies rise in response to Fed's pause signal

Tan KW
Publish date: Thu, 23 Mar 2023, 02:49 PM
Tan KW
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Most Asian currencies rose on Thursday (March 23), with the dollar hitting near seven-week lows after the US Federal Reserve toned down its hawkish rhetoric, while the Philippine peso edged lower ahead of a central bank rate decision.

The South Korean won led regional gains, appreciating more than 2%, while the Singapore dollar, Malaysian ringgit, and the Thai baht strengthened between 0.3% and 0.6%.

The US central bank adjusted to a more cautious stance on Wednesday, signalling it was on the verge of pausing interest rate rises. But it reiterated its commitment to fight soaring inflation and delivered a widely expected 25 basis points (bps) hike.

"In light of the 'less assertive' language change, we are adjusting our terminal Fed funds target rate level lower to 5.25%, factoring in a final 25 bps hike at the May 2023 FOMC meeting," said analyst at United Overseas Bank in a note.

"We expect no rate cuts this year and this terminal rate of 5.25% to last through 2023."

In Asia, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority raised its base rate via the overnight discount window by 25 basis points, hours after the Fed delivered its similar rate hike.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is also expected to lift interest rates by 25 basis points (bps) on Thursday. The Philippine peso edged lower in the lead-up to the decision, while stocks in Manila were on track to fall after two days of rises.

Markets in Indonesia were closed for a public holiday.

Singapore will issue February consumer price index data later on Thursday.

"Following the renewed surge in inflation in January, pricing pressures (in February) are expected to show further persistence with a move to 5.7% from the previous 5.5%," said analysts at IG Group.

Equities in Asia were subdued.

Malaysian stocks were 0.2% lower while shares in China and Singapore were flat.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said shareholders would absorb losses before holders of additional Tier 1 and Tier 2 instruments if a financial institution were liquidated. The statement came a day after Credit Suisse angered bondholders by moving to write down 6 billion Swiss francs worth of debt.


  - Reuters


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