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Ringgit Rises to 3-Week High as Investors Add to Stock Holdings

Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Malaysia’s ringgit advanced to its strongest level in more than three weeks after global funds added to holdings of the nation’s shares for a third consecutive month in December.

International investors bought 800 million ringgit ($255 million) more local stocks than they sold last month, according to data on the website of the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange. The currency strengthened for a third trading day and the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index of shares gained after manufacturing in the U.S. expanded at the fastest pace in six months in December.

“With good manufacturing data in the U.S. and stock gains, we are seeing a slight risk-on sentiment in the market,” said Minori Uchida, a senior analyst in Tokyo at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. “But sentiment surrounding Europe hasn’t improved much, and I don’t think investors want to aggressively take riskier positions.”

The ringgit advanced 0.2 percent to 3.1335 per dollar as of 4:11 p.m. in Kuala Lumpur, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It touched 3.1295, the strongest level since Dec. 9.

The U.S. Institute for Supply Management’s factory index climbed to 53.9 last month from 52.7 in November, data issued by the Tempe, Arizona-based group showed yesterday. A reading above 50 signals expansion.

The yield on the 3.434 percent debt due August 2014 added one basis point, or 0.01 percentage point, to 3.03 percent, according to Bursa Malaysia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yumi Teso in Bangkok at yteso1@bloomberg.net

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

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