Asian currencies rose, led by South Korea’s won, as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said more U.S. stimulus will be provided if necessary, keeping speculation alive it will have another round of asset purchases.
The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index advanced for a third day and the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index of shares climbed the most in a week as Bernanke signaled the central bank stands ready to add to its two rounds of monetary easing if needed. South Korea’s economy expanded at the fastest pace in a year, a central bank report showed today.
“The possibility of a third round of quantitative easing is still very much on the cards,” said Chua Hak Bin, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Singapore. “This is supportive of monetary conditions and global growth and will support Asian currencies.”
The won advanced 0.4 percent to 1,136.32 per dollar in Seoul, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Taiwan’s dollar added 0.4 percent to NT$29.412 and the Philippine peso rose 0.3 percent to 42.525. The Asia Dollar Index, which tracks the region’s 10 most active currencies excluding the yen, touched a one-week high of 116.76 and was up 0.1 percent to 116.72 as of 4:10 p.m. in Hong Kong.
The Fed reiterated its view that borrowing costs are likely to remain “exceptionally low” at least through late 2014. It estimated the world’s largest economy will grow 2.4 percent to 2.9 percent, upgrading a previous prediction for an expansion of 2.2 percent to 2.7 percent.
Europe may add an annex to its budget treaty spelling out how countries can boost growth as the bloc shifts its emphasis on tackling the debt crisis, a German government official said. The Chinese yuan was little changed at 6.3053 even after the central bank set a record reference rate for the currency.
The won rose for the first time in three days after the Bank of Korea said today gross domestic product rose 0.9 percent in the first quarter from the previous three months, when it gained 0.3 percent.
North Korea’s state media said this week that a special action squad will turn South’s government into ashes within three to four minutes using “unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style.”
“External factors are favorable for the won today,” said Kim Sung Soon, chief currency dealer at Industrial Bank of Korea (024110) in Seoul. “Risks related to North Korea persist, but I expect this issue to affect currency markets only if their action really happens.”
Taiwan’s dollar rose to a three-week high as exchange data showed global funds bought $104 million more local stocks than they sold in the first three days of this week, boosting net purchases this year to $3.8 billion.
“Bernanke’s comments spurred risk-taking,” said Samson Tu, a Taipei-based fund manager at Uni-President Assets Management Corp., who helps manage $1.6 billion of fixed-income securities. “It’s boosting the Taiwan dollar and regional currencies.”
Elsewhere, Malaysia’s ringgit added 0.3 percent to 3.0505 per dollar and Thailand’s baht rose 0.2 percent to 30.88. Indonesia’s rupiah held steady at 9,191 and India’s rupee was little changed at 52.55.
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