Asian currencies added to last week’s losses after reports over the weekend signaled China’s economy slowed last month, damping the demand outlook for the region’s exports.
The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index (ADXY) snapped a three- day advance after China said on March 10 that its trade deficit in February was the widest in at least 22 years. Overseas sales from Asia’s largest economy rose 18.4 percent, less than the 31 percent median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Demand for the dollar improved after the U.S. Labor Department said March 9 that nonfarm payrolls increased 227,000 in February, following a revised 284,000 jump the previous month.
“We’ve seen weaker data in Asia led by China,” said Thomas Harr, head of Asian currency strategy at Standard Chartered Plc in Singapore. “It’s weighing on the currency markets.”
Malaysia’s ringgit declined 0.8 percent to 3.0330 per dollar as of 4:34 p.m. in Kuala Lumpur, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. South Korea’s won fell 0.5 percent to 1,123.90, Indonesia’s rupiah dropped 0.5 percent to 9,170 and China’s yuan slipped 0.25 percent to 6.3265.
The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index of stocks snapped a two-day gain and fell 0.5 percent. China said on March 10 its trade shortfall in February was $31.4 billion.
The yuan dropped by the most since Jan. 20 after the People’s Bank of China weakened its daily reference rate by 0.33 percent to 6.3282 per dollar, the biggest decline since August 2010.
Malaysian Output Slowing
The better-than-expected U.S. jobs data damped speculation the Federal Reserve will further ease monetary policy to spur the world’s biggest economy. Commerce Department figures tomorrow may show U.S. retail sales increased 1.1 percent in February, the most in five months, according to the median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg survey.
“The dollar strengthened as the report pared market expectations of another round of quantitative easing,” according to a research note from Kuala Lumpur-based Hong Leong Bank Bhd. today.
The ringgit fell the most in three weeks after a government report showed industrial production grew 0.2 percent in January from a year earlier, the least in six months. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted a 0.9 percent gain, following a revised 2.9 percent increase in December.
Thailand’s baht dropped 0.2 percent to 30.66 per dollar before a government report today that may show exports failed to grow in January, after shrinking 2 percent in December, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.
“Thai exports will be quite bumpy,” said Vishnu Varathan, an economist at Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. in Singapore. “China’s data has renewed concerns and the bigger picture globally remains pretty soft.”
Elsewhere, Taiwan’s dollar depreciated 0.2 percent to NT$29.554 against its U.S. counterpart. The Philippine peso dropped 0.2 percent to 42.658 and the Indian rupee declined 0.2 percent to 49.9756. Vietnam’s dong was steady at 20,830.
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