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Asian Currencies Drop as Greece, China Inflation Temper Optimism

Asian currencies declined after Greek debt negotiations stalled and faster inflation in China tempered speculation the region’s central banks will ease monetary policy to shore up economic growth.

Indonesia’s rupiah led declines after the central bank unexpectedly cut borrowing costs. Greek leaders failed to agree on some economic measures required to win more financial aid. Data showed today consumer prices in China rose 4.5 percent last month from a year earlier, after December’s 4.1 percent gain, exceeding all 33 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

“The lack of progress in Greece disappoints investors and is bad for market sentiment,” said Banny Lam, a Hong Kong-based economist at CCB International Securities Ltd., a unit of China’s second-largest bank.

The rupiah dropped 0.4 percent to 8,971 per dollar as of 5:10 p.m. in Jakarta, according to prices from local banks compiled by Bloomberg. India’s rupee slid 0.4 percent to 49.3425. The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index, which tracks the 10 most-traded regional currencies excluding the yen, fell 0.2 percent.

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos summoned the debt-stricken nation’s creditors for more talks today to resolve a dispute over pension cuts needed to secure a 130 billion-euro ($172 billion) rescue package.

China’s yuan fell 0.01 percent to 6.2952 per dollar in Shanghai, according to China Foreign Exchange Trade System. In Hong Kong’s offshore market, the currency declined 0.08 percent to 6.2915.

Korea Holds Rates

Chinese “authorities are likely to want to refrain from too much easing too soon that could negate recent efforts to cool the property market,” said Sim Moh Siong, a currency strategist at Bank of Singapore Ltd.

South Korea’s won was little changed at 1,115.73, after dropping as much as 0.5 percent earlier. The Bank of Korea held its seven-day repurchase rate at 3.25 percent today, unchanged for an eighth straight month, as the economy slowed and exports declined due to the European debt crisis.

The rupiah slipped by the most in more than two weeks after Bank Indonesia cut its benchmark reference rate to 5.75 percent from 6 percent. Four of 15 analysts predicted the cut, while 11 forecast no change in a Bloomberg survey.

Malaysia’s ringgit was little changed even as government reports today showed exports grew 6.1 percent in December, the slowest pace in seven months. A central bank report on Feb. 15 may show the economy expanded 4.9 percent in 2011 from 7.2 percent in 2010, according to economists in another Bloomberg survey. The currency traded at 3.0083 per dollar, compared with 3.0078 yesterday.

Elsewhere, Taiwan’s dollar gained 0.1 percent to NT$29.495 versus the greenback. The Thai baht strengthened 0.1 percent to 30.73 and the Philippine peso was steady at 42.205.

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