Asia FX inches lower, dollar steady before swarm of economic data


Most Asian currencies weakened slightly on Monday, while the dollar steadied as traders hunkered down before a string of key economic readings due this week.

Mixed signals from China weighed on sentiment, as data showed a sustained, albeit narrowing decline in industrial profits. Top Chinese government officials called on Beijing to unlock more financial support for local businesses amid a slowing economic recovery.

The yuan fell 0.1%, following a slightly weaker daily midpoint fix by the People’s Bank of China. Focus this week was on purchasing managers index (PMI) data for November, due on Thursday, for more cues on business activity. PMI readings for October had largely missed expectations.

Still, Beijing has more stimulus measures lined up in the coming months, specifically a 1 trillion yuan ($139 billion) bond issuance, which is expected to shore up growth.

But near-term sentiment towards China remained largely weak, which in turn kept broader Asian markets subdued.

The Australian dollar fell 0.2%, with focus also turning to key inflation and retail sales data due later in the week. Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Michele Bullock is also set to speak on this week, after she warned that inflation will likely remain sticky in the coming months.

South Korea’s won fell 0.1% before a Bank of Korea rate decision this week, with the central bank widely expected to keep rates on hold.

The Indian rupee hovered around record lows, while the Thai baht led gains across Southeast Asia with a 0.4% rise, even as data showed the country swinging to a surprise trade deficit in October.

The Japanese yen was among the better performers for the day, rising 0.4%. Japanese industrial production and retail sales data is also on tap this week.

Most Asian currencies marked strong gains through November, amid growing optimism that the U.S. Federal Reserve was done raising interest rates. This trend had also battered the dollar, putting it close to three-month lows.

But markets were now awaiting a fresh batch of economic readings for more cues on monetary policy.

Dollar steady as inflation, GDP data looms

The dollar index and dollar index futures moved little in Asian trade on Monday, as markets awaited key economic readings from the country this week.

PCE price data– the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge- is due on Thursday, as is a second reading on gross domestic product for the third quarter. Any signs of cooling inflation and economic growth are expected to further bets on a less hawkish Fed, denting the dollar and benefiting Asian markets.

U.S. consumer confidence and PMI readings for November are also due this week, offering more cues on the world’s largest economy.


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