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Rashmi Ashok

CORRECTED-EM ASIA FX-Most Asia FX steady, soothed by stimulus hopes; Malaysian ringgit outperforms (Aug 19)

7:17am BST

(Corrects 3rd paragraph in Aug 19 report to say Fitch Solutions, not Fitch Ratings) * Fitch Solutions raises Malaysia's 2019 growth forecast * Ringgit and Rupiah gain most * Other regional units subdued as growth fears persist By Rashmi Ashok Aug 19 Most Asian currencies held steady on Monday as global recession fears were soothed by stimulus hopes, while the Malaysian ringgit extended gains after ratings agency Fitch raised the country's growth forecast on the back of strong economic data. The ringgit advanced 0.2%, while the Indonesian rupiah built on gains from Friday to be up 0.3%. Earlier on Monday, Fitch Solutions revised Malaysia's 2019 growth forecast to 4.6%, up from 4.2%, after the country reported stronger-than-expected growth over the first half. The sturdier growth in Malaysia contrasted with many of its peers in the region, which have slowed this year as the U.S.-China trade war hurt demand for exports. The Indonesian rupiah was the top performer, extending Friday's gains after Indonesia's budget on Friday set a slightly optimistic target on growth. The 2020 gross domestic product (GDP) growth target of 5.3% was the same as the current year, although officials have often said 2019 growth would come in slightly lower. Broader sentiment remained subdued even though signs of more steps from China to support businesses appeared to calm investors unnerved by nagging recession fears. Other major economies, including Germany and the eurozone, have also flagged more stimulus to boost growth. The Chinese yuan traded slightly lower, while the Korean won also ticked down. China's central bank unveiled a key interest rate reform on Saturday to help steer borrowing costs lower for companies and support an economy gripped by bruising trade war with the United States. The move would be helpful, said Sim Moh Siong, FX strategist at Bank of Singapore. However, "the message so far is that while they do have the capacity to provide more stimulus to the economy, they are not planning to go about it in a big way," he said. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0546 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Change on the day at 0546 GMT Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 106.380 106.36 -0.02 Sing dlr 1.385 1.3842 -0.03 Taiwan dlr 31.349 31.366 +0.05 Korean won 1211.500 1210.8 -0.06 Baht 30.860 30.86 +0.00 Peso 52.290 52.3 +0.02 Rupiah 14195.000 14230 +0.25 Rupee 71.228 71.15 -0.11 Ringgit 4.166 4.176 +0.24 Yuan 7.047 7.0420 -0.07 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 106.380 109.56 +2.99 Sing dlr 1.385 1.3627 -1.58 Taiwan dlr 31.349 30.733 -1.96 Korean won 1211.500 1115.70 -7.91 Baht 30.860 32.55 +5.48 Peso 52.290 52.47 +0.34 Rupiah 14195.000 14375 +1.27 Rupee 71.228 69.77 -2.05 Ringgit 4.166 4.1300 -0.86 Yuan 7.047 6.8730 -2.47 (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

UPDATE 2-Australia's CSL sees another record profit in 2020; shares soar

14 Aug 2019

* Record FY profit at $1.92 billion, up 11% (Recasts, adds share move, analyst comment, segmental sales)

Australia's JB Hi-Fi rings up a bumper profit, shares hit record high

12 Aug 2019

SYDNEY/BENGALURU Australian No. 2 electronics chain JB Hi-Fi Ltd defied a gloomy retail market by posting an annual profit that beat forecasts, sending its shares to a record high amid hopes it would benefit even further from recent economic stimulus.

UPDATE 2-Australia's JB Hi-Fi rings up a bumper profit, shares hit record high

12 Aug 2019

* Result defies Australian retail downturn (Recasts with shares reaction, adds analyst quote)

UPDATE 2-Fonterra to cut China Beingmate stake after failing to find buyer

07 Aug 2019

* To reduce stake after booking NZ$405 mln writedown last year (Adds analyst comment, Fonterra shares, Beingmate share background)

Australia's GrainCorp braces for loss as drought bites

02 Aug 2019

Australian bulk grain handler GrainCorp Ltd said on Friday it expects to report its first loss in a decade in 2019 as it struggles with drought, knocking its shares down by 10%.

UPDATE 2-Australia's GrainCorp braces for loss as drought bites

02 Aug 2019

Aug 2 Australian bulk grain handler GrainCorp Ltd said on Friday it expects to report its first loss in a decade in 2019 as it struggles with drought, knocking its shares down by 10%.

EM ASIA FX-Most Asian units rise as dollar weakens on dovish Fed talk

19 Jul 2019

* SKorean won and Indonesian rupiah on track for 0.6% weekly gain * Markets raise bets on aggressive cut after dovish Fed talk * Thai baht strengthens after Fitch outlook upgrade (Adds text, updates prices) By Rashmi Ashok July 19 Most emerging Asian currencies rose against a weaker dollar on Friday after a dovish speech by a top Federal Reserve official sealed market expectations of a U.S. rate cut in July New York Fed President John Williams said on Thursday that it was imperative for policymakers to add stimulus early to deal with low inflation when rates are near zero, instead of waiting for an economic disaster to unfold. The news drove down the dollar index to a two-week low of 96.671 on Thursday, and on Friday there was only a marginal recovery, giving Asian currencies a fillip. "The market anticipates at least a 25 basis points at the end of the July FOMC but after the comments from the policymaker the probabilities of a deeper rate cut have risen," said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at OANDA. Although a later clarification from a Fed representative said the speech was academic in nature and not about decisions at the Fed's coming policy meet, that did little to dent the upbeat mood. All Asian units were on track to rise for the week, except for the Indian rupee which was marginally lower. The Korean won and the Indonesian rupiah led gains in the region for the week, with both set to add about 0.6%. After Bank Indonesia and Bank of Korea's rate cuts on Thursday, analysts expect further easing among Asian central banks, emboldened by rising signs that the Fed will remain dovish in the near future. "Over the coming few quarters, we can expect more rate cuts from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea," analysts at DBS Research Group said. BAHT GAINS ON OUTLOOK UPGRADE The Thai baht added 0.4% and was among top performers on Friday after ratings agency Fitch revised its outlook on Thailand to "positive" from "stable". Fitch forecast that external finances will remain robust, adding "we expect the current account surplus to remain high relative to peers... supported by tourism inflows and a goods surplus, despite slowing exports." The agency said it expects the Thai central bank to keep rates on hold during 2019. "The baht's strength relative to regional peers could weigh on Thailand's export competitiveness, but it is unclear that this has manifested itself yet, with recent export declines broadly in line with peers," Fitch said. The baht is the region's best performer this year, adding about 5.9% against the dollar. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0518 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 107.570 107.29 -0.26 Sing dlr 1.356 1.3565 +0.01 Taiwan dlr 31.058 31.077 +0.06 Korean won 1173.800 1178.8 +0.43 Baht 30.750 30.88 +0.42 Peso 50.990 50.92 -0.14 Rupiah 13905.000 13955 +0.36 Rupee 68.815 68.95 +0.20 Ringgit 4.108 4.113 +0.12 Yuan 6.876 6.8805 +0.07 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 107.570 109.56 +1.85 Sing dlr 1.356 1.3627 +0.46 Taiwan dlr 31.058 30.733 -1.05 Korean won 1173.800 1115.70 -4.95 Baht 30.750 32.55 +5.85 Peso 50.990 52.47 +2.90 Rupiah 13905.000 14375 +3.38 Rupee 68.815 69.77 +1.39 Ringgit 4.108 4.1300 +0.54 Yuan 6.876 6.8730 -0.04 (Editing by Richard Borsuk)

EM ASIA FX-Korean won leads gains for most Asian FX; BOK cut seen supporting economy

18 Jul 2019

* S. Korea cenbank cuts rates, says "some policy room left" * Rupiah rises ahead of cenbank rate decision * Investors cut bearish bets on most Asian units -Reuters poll (Adds text, updates prices) By Rashmi Ashok July 18 Most emerging Asian currencies rose against the dollar on Thursday, with the Korean won leading the gains after a surprise rate cut by the nation's central bank was seen by traders as positive move for a stuttering economy. The dollar index eased slightly in the wake of soft U.S. housing market data and signs of renewed Sino-U.S. trade tensions. "Investors are back focusing on worst-case scenarios despite overly accommodating central bank policies," said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets Pte Ltd. The spotlight fell on the Korean won, which added 0.4% against the dollar despite an unexpected rate cut by the Bank of Korea, which came at least a month earlier than many economists had predicted. A deepening trade row with Japan may have forced BOK's hand, given the Korean economy is already struggling to navigate the Sino-U.S. tariff standoff. The currency did fall soon after the surprise rates decision, but rebounded as dovish comments from BOK Governor Lee Ju-yeol signalled policymakers' determination to revive the trade-reliant economy, which some traders said could help attract inflows. "After the rate cut which surprised the market, the speech may have improved the sentiment because it confirmed the central bank's pro-growth stance," said Gao Qi, FX strategist at Scotiabank. "If the rate cut can boost assets like equities and bonds, it will attract inflows. In this scenario, it can help, particularly if the Fed remains dovish," he added. The Federal Reserve is widely expected to cut rates at its month-end review as an insurance policy against rising economic risks, including from the bruising Sino-U.S. trade war. The Indonesian rupiah added 0.3%, ahead of its central bank policy meeting due later. The majority of analysts in a Reuters poll predicted the Bank Indonesia (BI) is likely to begin an easing cycle with a rate cut on Thursday. ASIA FX POSITIONING - FED EYED A separate Reuters poll showed investors cut bearish bets on most Asian units and went long on the rupiah for the first time in nearly three months as expectations of a Fed rate cut weakened prospects for the greenback. Long positions on the Thai baht receded, according to the poll. Strategists at DBS Group Research say catalysts for more baht appreciation have waned, mainly on the fading impact of factors such as a wider current account surplus and December's rate hike. "Policymakers have signalled that Thailand may join the rest of the world in easing monetary policy... and consider new measures to encourage capital outflows," the DBS note said. "Hence, USD/THB has scope to return above 31 towards 32 again." The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0530 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 107.700 107.94 +0.22 Sing dlr 1.359 1.3608 +0.15 Taiwan dlr 31.066 31.075 +0.03 Korean won 1176.600 1181.3 +0.40 Baht 30.860 30.91 +0.16 Peso 51.000 51.05 +0.10 Rupiah 13935.000 13975 +0.29 Rupee 68.798 68.81 +0.02 Ringgit 4.111 4.1125 +0.04 Yuan 6.878 6.8733 -0.06 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 107.700 109.56 +1.73 Sing dlr 1.359 1.3627 +0.29 Taiwan dlr 31.066 30.733 -1.07 Korean won 1176.600 1115.70 -5.18 Baht 30.860 32.55 +5.48 Peso 51.000 52.47 +2.88 Rupiah 13935.000 14375 +3.16 Rupee 68.798 69.77 +1.41 Ringgit 4.111 4.1300 +0.46 Yuan 6.878 6.8730 -0.07 (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

EM ASIA FX-Weaker as U.S. data lessens chance of aggressive Fed easing

17 Jul 2019

* Rupiah eases, cenbank expected to cut rates on Thursday * Korean won slips ahead of BOK policy meeting * Rising crude weighs on rupee, rupiah (Adds text, updates prices) By Rashmi Ashok July 17 Emerging Asian currencies weakened against a firmer dollar on Wednesday, as robust U.S. retail sales trimmed chances of aggressive policy easing by the Federal Reserve. U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in June, data showed on Tuesday, tempering expectations of a 50 basis point cut in July that markets had earlier expected. "The surprise retail sales indicator in the United States is putting a big question mark on the number of interest rate cuts the Fed can get away with," Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a note. "A July rate cut of 25 basis points is fully priced in, but improving fundamentals could give some breathing room to the Fed despite the wishes of the White House," he said. The Philippine peso was the biggest decliner, off 0.4% against the greenback. Rising crude prices stepped up pressure on the currencies of major net oil importers, with the Indian rupee and the Indonesian rupiah both weakening. The rupiah fell for a second session, ahead of a central bank meeting due on Thursday. Bank Indonesia (BI) Governor Perry Warjiyo has been hinting at a possible rate cut recently, saying "there is room to lower the rate" after a positive year for the rupiah. With Fed Chairman Jerome Powell all but cementing a rate cut in July and Indonesian President Joko Widodo stepping up pressure on the government to spur growth, a majority of analysts polled by Reuters expected a rate cut on Thursday. TRADE UNCERTAINTY HURTS WON The trade-sensitive Korean won slid 0.2%, after U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the United States "still has a long way to go" to conclude a trade deal with China and threatened additional tariffs if needed. A possible rate cut by the Bank of Korea at its policy review on Thursday also weighed on the currency, which is the region's worst performer this year with a decline of 5.5%. "The trade spat with Japan exacerbating sluggish trade conditions, diminishing fiscal space and deteriorating domestic demand may tip the BOK into a rate cut sooner rather than later; and perhaps as soon as this week," analysts at Mizuho Bank said in a note. South Korea's exports have been hit by the Sino-U.S. trade war and investors are also bracing for the impact of Japan's export curbs to Korea. Furthermore, domestic demand has moderated, adding to the central bank's worries. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0459 GMT. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 108.190 108.22 +0.03 Sing dlr 1.360 1.3582 -0.15 Taiwan dlr 31.060 31.042 -0.06 Korean won 1180.000 1177.6 -0.20 Baht 30.900 30.89 -0.03 Peso 51.080 50.89 -0.37 Rupiah 13960.000 13930 -0.21 Rupee 68.805 68.71 -0.14 Ringgit 4.114 4.11 -0.10 Yuan 6.883 6.8760 -0.10 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 108.190 109.56 +1.27 Sing dlr 1.360 1.3627 +0.18 Taiwan dlr 31.060 30.733 -1.05 Korean won 1180.000 1115.70 -5.45 Baht 30.900 32.55 +5.34 Peso 51.080 52.47 +2.72 Rupiah 13960.000 14375 +2.97 Rupee 68.805 69.77 +1.40 Ringgit 4.114 4.1300 +0.39 Yuan 6.883 6.8730 -0.14 (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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