Emerging Asia’s currencies began the new year on the front foot as investors bet that a vaccine-led recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic would keep the dollar subdued.
This is as the Indonesian rupiah is climbing to a more than six-month high.
The greenback continued to retreat after posting its largest annual loss since 2017 last year, buoying the Taiwanese dollar 1.5 per cent, while the Malaysian ringgit and the South Korean won advanced 0.6 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively.
The Chinese yuan jumped 0.9 per cent and blew past the crucial 6.5 per dollar level, anchoring gains in regional currencies.
“The weaker U.S. dollar is set to be a prolonged theme in 2021,’’ said Han Tan, a market analyst at FXTM.
Tan added that emerging-market currencies would stay supported in that case, with optimism over vaccine rollouts adding to gains.
“Any ramp-up in expectations for more incoming U.S. fiscal stimulus or other boosts to inflationary pressures should translate into more downward pressure on the dollar,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the rupiah broke the 14,000 per dollar mark on Monday, trading 1.3 per cent higher at about 13,860, whereas Indonesia’s 10-year benchmark yields fell 16.1 basis points at 5.937 per cent.
Yields fall when prices rise.
After concerns over the central bank’s autonomy in Jakarta, positive vaccine developments toward the end of 2020 helped the rupiah recoup most of its losses, with investors continuing to flock to Indonesia’s high-yielding debt amid a weak dollar.
“The rupiah may continue its outperformance… the global hunt for yields should drive more inflows into its bond markets, which would be a major supportive element for the Indonesian currency,’’ Tan added.
Most regional equities were stronger amid optimism in markets, with South Korea, Indonesia and the
Philippines shares firming between one per cent and 2.3 per cent.
However, the Malaysian bourse was weighed down by the heavyweight glove makers that benefited during the early months of the pandemic.
Thai shares dropped one per cent as the government mulled more restrictions amid a second wave of coronavirus infections and after it reported its first known case of a more contagious variant of the virus on Sunday.