EM ASIA FX-Asian currencies steady to firmer; focus on Trump

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 11, 2017 10:20 hrs

* Yuan, ringgit, rupiah and won hold steady * Singapore dollar, Taiwan dollar and baht edge higher * Eyes on US President-elect Donald Trump's news conference (Adds text, updates prices) SINGAPORE, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies were steady to firmer on Wednesday, with investors awaiting a news conference by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump for further clues on his economic policies and the direction of the greenback. After gaining some respite this month as a short-covering rally in the offshore Chinese yuan triggered some buying back of Asian currencies, the focus now is on Trump's news conference due later on Wednesday. Asian currencies will be especially sentitive to what Trump says about China, said Kota Hirayama, senior economist for SMBC Nikko Securities in Tokyo. "As long as Trump doesn't say anything extremely harsh against China, the impact on Asian currencies may be limited," Hirayama said, regarding the near-term outlook. During the election campaign, Trump threatened to brand China a currency manipulator on his first day in office on Jan. 20 and slap high tariffs on Chinese goods sold to the United States. Asian currencies are likely to come under renewed pressure if the United States takes a hardline stance against China on trade, which would raise concerns about the outlook for other export-reliant Asian economies, he added. Asian currencies have retreated broadly over the past couple of months as U.S. bond yields jumped on expectations that Trump's proposals for infrastructure spending and tax cuts will prop up U.S. economic growth and inflation. SOUTH KOREAN WON The won was supported by dollar-selling by foreign players and foreign demand for South Korean shares. South Korean equities touched their highest level since July 2015 at one point and were last up 1.4 percent on the day. Expectations that fourth-quarter earnings among South Korean firms would be stronger helped give a lift to the equity market. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Change on the day at 0416 GMT Currency Latest bid Previous Pct day Move Japan yen 116.10 115.78 -0.28 Sing dlr 1.4355 1.4362 +0.05 Taiwan dlr 31.891 31.948 +0.18 Korean won 1195.03 1194.60 -0.04 Baht 35.58 35.60 +0.06 Peso 49.540 49.505 -0.07 Rupiah 13308 13310 +0.02 Rupee 68.26 68.19 -0.11 Ringgit 4.4730 4.4730 +0.00 Yuan 6.9251 6.9245 -0.01 Change so far in 2017 Currency Latest bid End prev Pct year Move Japan yen 116.10 117.07 +0.84 Sing dlr 1.4355 1.4490 +0.94 Taiwan dlr 31.891 32.279 +1.22 Korean won 1195.03 1207.70 +1.06 Baht 35.58 35.80 +0.63 Peso 49.54 49.72 +0.36 Rupiah 13308 13470 +1.22 Rupee 68.26 67.92 -0.50 Ringgit 4.4730 4.4845 +0.26 Yuan 6.9251 6.9467 +0.31 (Reporting by Masayuki Kitano; Additional reporting by Dahee Kim in SEOUL and IFR Markets' Catherine Tan; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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