Asian Currencies Gain on U.S. Data, China Stimulus Speculation

Most Asian currencies gained after reports showed U.S. home sales and durable-goods orders topped economists’ estimates and on speculation China will take steps to spur its economy.

India’s rupee snapped a two-day loss and South Korea’s won climbed for a third day as the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index of regional shares rose the most in a week. Gains were limited before European Union leaders start a two-day meeting in Brussels. Banks including Citigroup Inc., Nomura Holdings Inc. and ING Groep NV are predicting the People’s Bank of China will cut banks’ reserve requirements again this year.

“With the good data out of the U.S. and gains in stocks, risk sentiment is quite stable now,” said Kozo Hasegawa, a Bangkok-based trader at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. “The currencies are likely to be quite range-bound before the results of the European summit come out.”

The rupee rebounded 0.2 percent to 57.03 per dollar as of 2 p.m. in Mumbai, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The won closed 0.2 percent stronger at 1,154.40, the Philippine peso added 0.1 percent to 42.34 and the Taiwan’s dollar rose as much as 0.5 percent to NT$29.956 before giving up all of its gains.

The 60-day historical volatility in the Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index rose to 2.93 percent from 2.92 percent yesterday. The index has dropped 2.3 percent this quarter amid concern Europe’s crisis will sap demand for Asian exports and as China’s economy grew at the slowest pace in almost three years.

U.S. Data

Pending home resales in the U.S. climbed 5.9 percent after a 5.5 percent decline in April, the National Association of Realtors reported yesterday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast a 1.5 percent gain. Orders for durable goods rose 1.1 percent in May, the Commerce Department said, compared with the median forecast for a 0.5 percent increase.

The won gained as the Kospi Index of stocks rose for the first time in six days. An official report showed the country’s current-account surplus widened in May to a six-month high of $3.6 billion.

“The current-account data confirms the positive outlook on the won,” said Jeon Seung Ji, a Seoul-based currency analyst at Samsung Futures Inc.

China’s yuan was little changed at 6.3575 per dollar in Shanghai, paring an earlier drop of as much as 0.21 percent. The central bank weakened its fixing rate by 0.03 percent at 6.3190. The world’s second-largest economy expanded 8.1 percent in the first three months of the year, the least since the second quarter of 2009.

“Investors aren’t optimistic that European leaders will come up with any remedies,” said Daniel Chan, executive vice-president at Glory Sky Global Markets Ltd. in Hong Kong. “China won’t let the yuan strengthen as it wants to support exports given how bad the external environment is.”

Elsewhere, Indonesia’s rupiah dropped 0.1 percent to 9,450 per dollar and the Vietnamese dong was steady at 20,903. Malaysia’s ringgit fell 0.2 percent to 3.1961, while the baht traded at 31.87 versus 31.88 yesterday.

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