April 30, 2020 / 6:37 AM / a month ago

Bears retreat on most Asia forex, investors on verge of turning bullish on yuan: Reuters poll

(Reuters) - Investors cut their short bets further on most Asian currencies, a Reuters poll showed, as several countries gradually ease lockdowns enforced to contain the new coronavirus’ spread, adding to a growing wave of optimism that the worst may be over.

Investors are also on the verge of turning bullish on China's yuan CNY=CFXS for the first time since January when Beijing and Washington signed an initial trade deal and just before the lockdown in the country took effect.

Short positions on the yuan were near zero, a poll of 14 respondents showed.

With lockdowns in some parts of the United States, Europe and Australia gradually being eased, and China slowly coming back online, investors are hoping the recovery can now begin after the pandemic hammers the global economy.

Central banks and governments have unleashed trillions globally to fight the coronavirus’ fallout, while dollar liquidity pressure has also eased considerably.

“Investors are realising that it’s not easy to fight the huge amount of liquidity support which the central banks are providing,” said Sunil Kalra, a Singapore-based portfolio manager at LC Beacon Global Fund.

Bearish positions on the Indian rupee INR=IN were lowered from two weeks ago, and are at their lowest since early-March.

The oil price crash is likely to benefit the rupee if prices remain around current levels given that India imports the vast majority of its oil needs.

However, the nationwide lockdown that has gone on for more than a month is battering India’s economy. A separate Reuters poll last week said India is likely to suffer its worst quarter since the mid-1990s.

In Indonesia, short positions on the rupiah IDR=ID were at their lowest since October last year, and have been cut in three consecutive polls since mid-March where the country faced a massive exodus of capital.

On Thursday, the currency strengthened 2%.

Bets on the Philippine peso PHP= were flat, as investors have cut short positions consistently since they turned bearish in mid-March.

However, bearish bets on the South Korean won KRW=KFTC and Malaysian ringgit MYR=MY were marginally raised but still below what they were at the start of the month.

The Asian currency positioning poll is focused on what analysts and fund managers believe are the current market positions in nine Asian emerging market currencies: the Chinese yuan, South Korean won, Singapore dollar, Indonesian rupiah, Taiwan dollar, Indian rupee, Philippine peso, Malaysian ringgit and Thai baht.

The poll uses estimates of net long or short positions on a scale of minus 3 to plus 3. A score of plus 3 indicates the market is significantly long U.S. dollars.

The figures include positions held through non-deliverable forwards (NDFs).

Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V

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