Asia FX weakens ahead of U.S. inflation, yuan supported by PBOC


Most Asian currencies edged lower on Thursday as investors turned broadly risk-averse ahead of key U.S. inflation data due later in the day, while the Chinese yuan rose sharply on more support from the central bank.

The dollar steadied near five-week highs, benefiting from increased demand as markets positioned for a potentially stronger U.S. consumer price index (CPI) reading.

The dollar index and dollar index futures both steadied in Asian trade, and were up about 0.5% this week.

CPI inflation is expected to have increased slightly in July from the prior month, potentially attracting a hawkish stance from the Federal Reserve as it moves to bring inflation within its target range.

Fears of a stronger reading kept most traders clear of high-yielding, risk-heavy Asian currencies. The South Korean won fell 0.2%, while the Taiwan dollar shed 0.3%.

The Japanese yen fell 0.1%, hovering around a one-month low, even as data showed that producer inflation rose slightly more than expected in the 12 months to July.

The Australian dollar rose 0.2%, but was nursing steep losses over the past three weeks on an increasingly dovish outlook for local interest rates.

Chinese yuan surges as PBOC support offsets growing risks

The Chinese yuan was a key outlier among Asian currencies on Thursday, rising 0.6% after the People’s Bank of China set a stronger-than-expected daily midpoint. Media reports also suggested that the Chinese government had begun selling dollars on the open market to buoy the yuan this week.

The outlook for the Chinese currency soured substantially as weak inflation and trade data pointed to more economic headwinds for China, as a post-COVID rebound runs out of steam.

Sentiment towards China also worsened after U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order outlining more restrictions on U.S. investment in China’s technology sector.

The move is the latest in an ongoing trade tiff between the world’s largest economies, and could draw retaliatory measures from China.

Indian rupee firms ahead of potentially hawkish RBI

The Indian rupee rose 0.1% on Thursday, recovering from a five-month low as markets awaited a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) meeting later in the day.

While the RBI is expected to keep interest rates steady, a recent uptick in Indian inflation pushed up expectations of more hawkish signals from the central bank.

Indian CPI inflation data for July is due on Friday, and is expected to have risen after a stronger-than-expected reading in June.


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