South Korean won leads Asia currency gains as risk appetite returns

South Korea's won lead gains in Asia, rising about 0.6 per cent against the US dollar. — Reuters pic
South Korea's won lead gains in Asia, rising about 0.6 per cent against the US dollar. — Reuters pic

SINGAPORE, March 12 — The South Korean won rose to a six-week high today, extending gains from the previous session as political tensions over the Korean peninsula eased on the prospects of talks between the US and North Korean heads of state.

Other Asian currencies gained slightly against a softer US dollar.

A slower increase in US wage growth reported on Friday caused many to trim their expectations for the number of rate hikes due from the Feds this year, which implies further pressure on the US dollar.

Among regional currencies, the Singapore dollar rose about 0.2 per cent and the Taiwan dollar about 0.1 per cent.

The Indian rupee rose about 0.3 per cent as investors awaited inflation data later in the day.

Indian retail inflation likely eased to a four-month low in February on softening prices for vegetable and other perishable foods, a Reuters poll showed. This, coupled with data last month showing an improved pace of economic growth in the country, may bring some comfort investors in the rupee.

The Thai baht rose about 0.2 per cent.

The Chinese yuan inched up on a stronger fixing

from the central bank. Tensions over trade between the US and China grew over the weekend after Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said that any trade war with the United States would only bring disaster to the world economy.

Meanwhile, the Philippine peso dipped slightly. A decline in the country's export growth kept its trade deficit at a high level, which implies further pressure on peso, which is already the worst performer amongst its peers.

South Korean won

The South Korean won led gains among its peers, rising about 0.6 per cent against the US dollar.

The won surged on Friday after US President Donald Trump said he was prepared to meet North Korea's Kim Jong Un a move which could potentially mark a major breakthrough in nuclear tensions with Pyongyang.

“Market expectations for the touted Trump-Kim Jong-un meeting are high, albiet the Trump administration acknowledging that no concessions will be giben in the talks,” OCBC said in a research note.

South Korean stocks also followed suit by hitting a five-week high. — Reuters

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