Ringgit Strengthens for Fifth Week Before Factory-Output Data

Malaysia’s ringgit advanced for a fifth week, the longest winning streak since 2010, as economists predict that growth in factory output will hold in December.

Industrial production rose 1.8 percent, the same pace in November, according to the median estimate of 10 economists in a Bloomberg News survey before government data due on Feb. 9. The currency gained for a fourth day as economists forecast U.S. employers added fewer workers to their payrolls in January from a month earlier.

“The market will keep a close watch on the employment data from the U.S.,” said Calbert Loh, head of treasury at Bangkok Bank Bhd. in Kuala Lumpur. “The ringgit could continue to strengthen on portfolio fund inflows.”

The ringgit appreciated 0.1 percent today to 3.0135 per dollar as of 4:25 p.m. in Kuala Lumpur, taking gains this week to 0.8 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Overseas investors bought Malaysian stocks for a fourth straight month in January, according to data on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange’s website. Foreign funds purchased a net 200 million ringgit ($66 million) of shares last month, yesterday’s data showed.

The currency has risen 5.1 percent this year, the second-best among Asia’s 11 most-used currencies. Overseas investors raised their ownership of ringgit-denominated debt by 36 percent from a year earlier to 164.5 billion ringgit ($54.4 billion) in 2011, Bank Negara Malaysia said on its website this week.

Employers in the U.S. probably added 140,000 workers last month after hiring 200,000 in December, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Malaysia’s three-year government bonds rose for a second week. The yield on the 3.434 percent notes due August 2014 declined five basis points, or 0.05 percentage point, to 2.92 percent, according to Bursa Malaysia. The rate increased one basis point today.

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