Asian currencies rose, led by South Korea’s won and India’s rupee, after U.S. factory orders topped estimates, tempering concern global economic growth is slowing.
The won touched the highest level in two months after data showed orders rose for the first time in three months. Asian stocks rose for a sixth day ahead of a European Central Bank meeting tomorrow at which 51 of 62 economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast a benchmark interest-rate cut. China may lower banks’ reserve-requirement ratios three more times in 2012, Shanghai Securities News reported on its website, citing a report released by the China Banking Association today.
“U.S. factory orders were better than expected,” said Vishnu Varathan, an economist at Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. in Singapore. “Markets are also celebrating the expectation of more policy stimulus.”
The rupee gained 0.2 percent to 54.26 per dollar as of 2:44 p.m. in Mumbai, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The won strengthened 0.2 percent to 1,135.70, Taiwan’s dollar rose 0.1 percent to NT$29.866 and Thailand’s baht climbed 0.1 percent to 31.46.
Factory orders in the world’s largest economy rose 0.7 percent, following a revised 0.7 percent drop in April, the Commerce Department said in Washington. Economists had predicted a 0.1 percent gain, based on the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. Further monetary-policy easing may be needed by the Federal Reserve if the U.S. economy deteriorates, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said yesterday.
Thai Stock Purchases
The baht reached a two-week high as global funds boosted holdings of the nation’s stocks by $109 million in the first two days of this week, exchange data show. The finance ministry raised its 2012 economic growth forecast to 5.7 percent on June 28 from its March prediction of about 5.5 percent.
Speculation on policy easing in the U.S. and Europe “supported market sentiment,” said Tohru Nishihama, an economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute Inc. in Tokyo. “That makes it easier for investors to take risks, helping to boost emerging-market currencies.”
Malaysia’s ringgit rose as much as 0.4 percent before trading little changed at 3.1527 per dollar. A report today showed exports jumped 6.7 percent in May from a year earlier, compared with the median forecast for a 4.5 percent gain in a Bloomberg survey. Overseas sales fell 0.1 percent in April.
China’s yuan gained 0.07 percent to 6.3477 per dollar in Shanghai, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System. The People’s Bank of China raised the reference rate by 0.09 percent to 6.3121 per dollar.
“Investors are expecting better data from the U.S. and China, with global central banks on track with more easing measures,” said Tommy Ong, senior vice-president of treasury and markets at DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd.
The Philippine peso retreated from a four-year high after the central bank pledged to curb excessive volatility in the currency. The peso snapped a six-day gain after Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco said in an e-mailed reply to questions yesterday that the monetary authority is “watchful for signs the speculative part is not overtaking the fundamental flows.” The currency weakened 0.3 percent to 41.833 per dollar.
Elsewhere, Indonesia’s rupiah gained 0.1 percent to 9,357 per dollar and Vietnam’s dong was steady at 20,890.
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