Asian Currencies Decline on Greece’s Debt Swap, China Slowdown Concerns

Asian currencies declined, led by the Indian rupee and Indonesia’s rupiah, on concern Greece will struggle to secure the majority needed to push through its swap with private creditors this week, deterring risk-taking.

The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index (ADXY) fell for a third day, the longest losing streak in two months, and the MSCI Asia- Pacific Index of stocks headed for its steepest two-day slump since mid-December. Greece’s 130 billion euro ($172 billion) bailout depends on it getting a 75 percent participation rate in the debt swap before a March 8 deadline. China’s yuan traded at the weakest level since January after the government set a lower growth target for 2012 and the central bank said the currency’s trading band may be widened.

“It’s a relatively quiet market with events in Greece coming up,” said Jeon Seung Ji, a currency analyst in Seoul at Samsung Futures Inc. “China’s growth-forecast revision was already reflected in yesterday’s market.”

The rupee fell 0.5 percent to 50.0812 per dollar as of 2:08 p.m. in Mumbai, according to data compiled Bloomberg, while the rupiah dropped 0.5 percent to 9,190, prices from local banks compiled by Bloomberg show. South Korea’s won closed 0.4 percent lower at 1,122.64 and Malaysia’s ringgit declined 0.2 percent to 3.0240.

Private investors holding about 20 percent of Greek bonds have declared their participation in the debt swap, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from company reports. Germany’s DSW investor protection group has advised private-sector bondholders to reject the offer.

Indonesia Outflows

Other reports heightened concerns about a global slowdown. U.K. retail sales fell for a second month in February, the British Retail Consortium said and data later today may show the European economy shrank in the fourth quarter.

The rupiah fell to a one-week low on concern global investors will repatriate funds as 15 trillion rupiah ($1.6 billion) of one-year bills mature this week. Overseas investors cut holdings of sovereign debt by 4 percent to 227 trillion rupiah in February, according to finance ministry data.

“We expect the rupiah to weaken because of the sovereign bond maturing soon,” said Yura Pradipta, a Jakarta-based currency trader at PT Bank Internasional Indonesia. “Offshore funds may step out of the Indonesian market first.”

Yuan Band

The yuan slipped for a second day, losing 0.03 percent to 6.3081 per dollar and touched 6.3189, a level not seen since Jan. 31. Asia’s largest economy set a growth target of 7.5 percent for 2012 yesterday, the lowest goal since 2004.

China may “appropriately” widen the yuan’s trading band to better reflect market supply and demand, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday, citing People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan. The currency is currently allowed to trade as much as 0.5 percent either side of its daily reference rate.

“Investors were a bit surprised by China’s cut in the growth target and that damped optimism surrounding the global economic recovery,” said Stella Lee, president of Success Futures & Foreign Exchange Ltd. “Zhou’s comments on flexibility don’t signal any near-term yuan movement but concern the long- term exchange-rate reform.”

Elsewhere, Thailand’s baht declined 0.1 percent to 30.72 against the greenback, Taiwan’s dollar dropped 0.1 percent to NT$29.538 and the Philippine peso weakened 0.2 percent to 42.963. Vietnam’s dong advanced 0.3 percent to 20,830.

To contact the reporters on this story: David Yong in Singapore at dyong@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sandy Hendry at shendry@bloomberg.net.

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