EM ASIA FX-Rupiah firm before election result; baht hits 8-month high

Last Updated: Tue, Jul 22, 2014 11:40 hrs

* Asian currencies mostly higher, baht sets 8-month high

* Hunt for higher yields seen as supporting Asian currencies

* Investors may be shifting funds to Asia from Eastern Europe -analyst (Adds text, updates levels)

By Masayuki Kitano

SINGAPORE, July 22 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies rose on Tuesday, with the Indonesian rupiah holding firm ahead of the official results of the country's presidential election, while the Thai baht scaled an eight-month high.

Asian currencies had slipped late last week after the downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine on Thursday stoked geopolitical tension and sapped investors' appetite for riskier assets.

They have since regained their footing however, with market participants saying Asian currencies seemed to be benefiting from investor interest for relatively high-yielding assets, despite lingering worries about geopolitical risks.

The Thai baht and the Indonesian rupiah have outperformed over the past two days, with both currencies having risen about 0.9 percent versus the dollar so far this week.

The baht rose to as high as 31.82 versus the dollar on Tuesday, its strongest level since last November.

"If you look at Thailand there have been some actual signs of hefty inflows of funds, both in equities and in bonds," said a trader for a Japanese bank in Singapore, referring to the baht's recent strength.

Thai shares slipped 0.8 percent on Tuesday, after finishing at their highest close in more than a year on Monday.

The baht has risen by more than 3 percent from a trough hit in early June, having gained as Thailand's political tensions eased after the military took power in May to end months of turmoil.

Desmond Fu, an analyst for Western Asset Management in Singapore, said investors may be shifting funds into Asia and away from Eastern Europe due to the tensions in Ukraine, based on a view that Asian assets offer attractive yields after taking into account relative risks.

"I think people are generally more comfortable with Asia... They think that on a risk-reward basis, Asia still offers decent yield," he said.

Investor positioning may be exacerbating such a shift in funds toward Asia, Fu said, adding that some investors may have had an overweight position in Eastern European assets over the past six months.


The rupiah rose 0.6 percent to 11,500 versus the dollar ahead of the official results of Indonesia's presidential election due later on Tuesday.

The rupiah has been supported in recent weeks as investors bet on a win for Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who is perceived as more business-friendly than his rival, former general Prabowo Subianto.

Both Jokowi and Prabowo had claimed victory in the election held on July 9, but unofficial tallies from quick polls have bolstered market expectations for a Jokowi win.

The rupiah held firm even after a top aide to Prabowo said on Tuesday that the presidential candidate wants a two-week delay in announcing the result of the election to allow investigations into allegations of mass cheating.

CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Change on the day at 0539 GMT Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 101.52 101.40 -0.12 Sing dlr 1.2400 1.2397 -0.02 Taiwan dlr 29.977 30.037 +0.20 Korean won 1023.90 1026.80 +0.28 Baht 31.82 31.94 +0.38 Peso 43.36 43.45 +0.21 Rupiah 11500.00 11567.00 +0.58 Rupee 60.19 60.31 +0.20 Ringgit 3.1760 3.1740 -0.06 Yuan 6.2058 6.2089 +0.05

Change so far in 2014 Currency Latest bid End prev year Pct Move Japan yen 101.52 105.28 +3.70 Sing dlr 1.2400 1.2632 +1.87 Taiwan dlr 29.977 29.950 -0.09 Korean won 1023.90 1055.40 +3.08 Baht 31.82 32.86 +3.27 Peso 43.36 44.40 +2.39 Rupiah 11500.00 12160.00 +5.74 Rupee 60.19 61.80 +2.68 Ringgit 3.1760 3.2755 +3.13 Yuan 6.2058 6.0539 -2.45

(Reporting by Masayuki Kitano)

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