April 19, 2017 / 5:44 AM / 9 months ago

REFILE-EM ASIA FX-Creep higher as caution over UK election seeps in

 (Refiles to drop extra word from headline)
    By Aparajita Saxena
    April 19 (Reuters) - Asian currencies eked out gains on
Wednesday as caution set in following British Prime Minister
Theresa May's call for an early general election, which sent the
sterling soaring to a more than six-month high on Tuesday.
    May's snap call for a June 8 election was widely seen as a
move to consolidate her party's majority in the parliament and
give her more solid backing in separation talks with the
European Union.
    The strength in the sterling pressured the dollar index
, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major
currencies, to trade near three-week lows on Wednesday.

    The dollar was further weighed by dismal U.S. housing data
pointing to sharply weaker economic growth in the first quarter.
That added to growing views that the prospect of a Federal
Reserve interest rate hike in June looked slim.
    Analysts said political uncertainty stemming from the first
round of the French presidential election this weekend and
tensions over North Korea also capped gains in Asian currencies.
    "While I suspect the worst of the geopolitical risk is
behind us, we are still ways away from closing the chapter on
Korean peninsula risk," Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA
    The Philippine peso weakened the most in Asia on
the day, down 0.16 percent against the dollar, while Singapore
dollar fell 0.11 percent to 1.397.
    The rupee and the yuan traded with a
slight upside bias, while the Taiwan Dollar was flat.
    Indonesian markets were closed on account of the Jakarta
governor elections, the precursor to which was a campaign that
incited political and religious tensions in the world's most
populous Muslim country.
    The race to lead the city of more than 10 million has been
fought by two candidates - Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as
Ahok, an incumbent governor who took over running Jakarta in
2014, and Anies Baswedan, a former education minister.
    While opinion polls show the two major candidates neck and
neck, an Ahok victory is seen as a foreign investor-friendly
outcome, as per a note by ING.
    The ringgit rose 0.11 percent to 4.404 against the
dollar on Wednesday, after an uneventful open in the morning.
    Consumer price index rose to an eight-year high
in March, official data showed, falling short of Reuters
    Bank Negara Malaysia said headline inflation will be
"relatively high" in the first half of 2017 on higher fuel
prices, but expects it to dip in the second half.
    The South Korean won fell marginally to 1,142.500
versus the U.S. dollar, paring early session gains.
    But onshore markets expect the won to appreciate
to 1132.4 against the U.S. dollar in a year, while offshore
non-deliverable forward markets see it at 1135.70 over
the same period.
    "The Korean won is still widely acknowledged as undervalued
over other ASEAN currencies, so there will be opportunistic
headline buying, as regional risk shows signs of abating," Innes
  Currency        Latest bid  Previous day   Pct Move
  Japan yen       108.620            108.4      -0.20
  Sing dlr        1.397             1.3956      -0.07
  Taiwan dlr      30.403            30.406      +0.01
  Korean won      1139.700          1142.4      +0.24
  Baht            34.280            34.358      +0.23
  Peso            49.720             49.64      -0.16
  Rupee           64.535             64.63      +0.14
  Ringgit         4.404              4.409      +0.11
  Yuan            6.884             6.8860      +0.03
  Change so far                                      
  Currency        Latest bid  End 2016       Pct Move
  Japan yen       108.620           117.07      +7.78
  Sing dlr        1.397             1.4490      +3.75
  Taiwan dlr      30.403            32.279      +6.17
  Korean won      1139.700         1207.70      +5.97
  Baht            34.280             35.80      +4.43
  Peso            49.720             49.72      +0.00
  Rupee           64.535             67.92      +5.25
  Ringgit         4.404             4.4845      +1.83
  Yuan            6.884             6.9467      +0.92
 (Reporting by Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim
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