Most Asian currencies fell on Wednesday as strong U.S. economic readings raised concerns over the Federal Reserve having enough room to keep raising interest rates, while weak economic trends in China also dented sentiment.
Data on Tuesday showed that U.S. retail sales grew more than expected in July, presenting more upside risks to consumer inflation and potentially giving the Fed more headroom to keep raising interest rates.
This boosted the dollar and kept appetite for riskier Asian currencies limited. The dollar index and dollar index futures both steadied near five-week highs in Asian trade on Wednesday.
Focus was also on the minutes of the Fed’s recent meeting, due later on Wednesday.
Chinese yuan falls on more weak signals, rate cut expectations
The Chinese yuan fell 0.2% on Wednesday as data showed that Chinese house prices continued to decline in July, raising more concerns over the country’s flailing property sector.
China’s central bank also unexpectedly cut interest rates on Tuesday, although analysts said that the bank would have to do more in order to stimulate the economy.
Bigger losses in the yuan were limited, thanks to a series of strong daily midpoint fixes by the central bank. But the currency was still trading close to its weakest level since November 2022, after briefly crossing the 7.3 level to the dollar on Tuesday.
Concerns over China weighed on most other Asian currencies. The Australian dollar fell slightly and was trading at a nine-month low, while the South Korean won fell 0.1%.
The New Zealand dollar was among the few outliers for the day, up 0.2% after the Reserve Bank held interest rates as expected.
Japanese yen in intervention territory
The Japanese yen was flat on Wednesday, but was nursing steep losses in recent sessions that drove the currency to a nine-month low against the dollar.
The yen crossed the 145 level this week, which is expected to potentially attract intervention by the Japanese government to support the falling currency. But officials have so far given no direct signals that they will buoy the yen.
Data on Tuesday showed that Japan’s economy grew substantially more than expected in the second quarter. But the factors that drove the yen’s recent weakness – a growing gap in local and U.S. yields – remained in play.
Indian rupee near record lows despite inflation spike, RBI intervenes
The Indian rupee rose 0.3% after data on Monday showed that Indian consumer inflation grew substantially more than expected in July.
But the currency was trading close to record lows of over 83, having come under pressure from a widening gap between Indian and U.S. yields after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) paused its rate hike cycle earlier this year.
The RBI was also seen intervening in currency markets to support the rupee this week.
Source Courtesy: Investing.com