Asian currencies advanced to a 14-year high after European leaders pledged more aid for Greece, easing concern the debt crisis will worsen and bolstering demand for emerging-market assets.
The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index, which tracks the region’s 10 most-traded currencies excluding the yen, reached the highest level since August 1997 and completed a weekly gain after the 159 billion euro ($229 billion) package was announced. China’s yuan rose to a 17-year high on Friday, the Philippine peso reached a three-year peak and South Korea’s won touched the strongest level since August 2008.
“It’s quite clear that the risk environment has improved significantly as the European summit agreement has helped to calm fears over the debt problems in Europe,” said Moh Siong Sim, a currency strategist at Bank of Singapore Ltd.
The peso strengthened 1.3 per cent this week to 42.403 versus the dollar in Manila, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Malaysia’s ringgit appreciated 1 per cent to 2.9755, Thailand’s baht climbed 0.8 per cent to 29.83, Singapore’s dollar added 0.8 per cent to S$1.2091 and the won rose 0.6 per cent to 1,051.98.
The ringgit reached a two-month high on speculation the central bank will raise borrowing costs after Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz said curbing inflation is a priority. Consumer prices in Malaysia rose to a two-year high of 3.5 per cent in June, according to official data released July 20.
“The ringgit could hold on to its strength as there are growing expectations that the Malaysian central bank will raise its policy rate,” said Calbert Loh, head of treasury at Bangkok Bank Bhd. in Kuala Lumpur.
The peso gained the most this week since September 2010 after the International Monetary Fund said on July 20 that the near-term outlook for the Philippines was favorable.
“The fundamentals, growth prospects and the fiscal side remain positive in the Philippines,” said Lito Biacora, vice president for treasury at Bank of the Philippine Islands in Manila.
The baht had a third weekly advance as overseas investors added to their holdings of the nation’s stocks. Global funds bought $370 million more Thai equities than they sold this week through July 21, taking this month’s net purchases to $762 million.
Indonesia’s rupiah appreciated 0.3 per cent this week to 8,523 per dollar after Fitch Ratings said on July 19 that the country may achieve an investment-grade credit rating before the end of next year. Fitch rates Indonesia BB”, one step below investment grade.
The yuan posted its biggest weekly gain in three months after the central bank signaled it favors a stronger currency to curb inflation. The currency advanced 0.27 per cent to 6.4455 per dollar.
Elsewhere, Taiwan’s dollar strengthened 0.2 per cent this week to NT$28.83 against its US counterpart and India’s rupee added 0.3 per cent to 44.3950.
Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index erasing its loss for the year, as a new aid plan for Greece eased concern Europe’s debt crisis will spread, reducing uncertainty about bank earnings.
HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), Europe’s biggest lender by market value, climbed 2.8 per cent in Hong Kong. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc, Japan’s largest bank by market value, jumped 3.3 per cent in Tokyo after the Nikkei newspaper said the lender’s profit may have more than doubled. Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s biggest maker of computer memory chips, rose 1 per cent after Microsoft Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. posted profits that beat estimates.
“Europe seems to have prevented the Greek sovereign-debt issue from escalating into something bigger,” said Ng Soo Nam, the Singapore-based chief investment officer at Nikko Asset Management Co., which oversees about $154 billion. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 1.3 per cent 138.94 as of 7:16 p.m. in Tokyo, its biggest advance this month and headed toward its highest close since May 5. About four stocks rose for each that fell on the gauge, which is headed for a 2.3 per cent advance this week.
The measure dropped last week for the first time in four weeks after European finance ministers declined to rule out a temporary default for Greece and as Moody’s Investors Service put the US under review for a possible credit-rating downgrade.
From / Gulf Today