Asian currencies traded near an eight-month high after data showed manufacturing picked up in China and India and South Korea’s exports rose for the first time in four months.
China’s purchasing manager’s index climbed to 50.2 in October from 49.8 in September, according to official figures released today. A reading above 50 signals expansion. A similar gauge in India rose to 52.9 from 52.8, according to a report from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics. Korea’s overseas shipments rose 1.2 percent from a year earlier after a revised 2 percent drop in September, a separate statement showed.
“Signs of economic data bottoming out are helping to sustain interest in Asian currencies,” said Wee-Khoon Chong, a strategist at Societe Generale SA in Hong Kong. “Funds are still flowing into Asia and that will provide support.”
The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index, which tracks the region’s 10 most-active currencies excluding the yen, was at 117.84 as of 4:30 p.m. in Hong Kong, after having reached the highest level since February of 117.98 yesterday. South Korea’s won, which touched a 13-month high of 1,090 per dollar yesterday, closed at 1,092.40, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Taiwan’s dollar was at 29.290 and touched 29.200 earlier, approaching a five-month high scaled on Oct. 17.
Emerging-market bond funds attracted $44.2 billion this year through Oct. 24, compared with $15.9 billion in all of 2011, according to U.S. data research firm EPFR Global.
China’s yuan slipped 0.05 percent to 6.2405 per dollar, halting a three-day advance as a lowering of the People’s Bank of China’s reference rate meant the currency had to weaken to remain within its permitted trading range. The PBOC’s fixing fell 0.04 percent to 6.3017 per dollar today, 1.02 percent below yesterday’s closing level for the currency. The yuan’s value is kept within 1 percent of the reference rate.
“China’s export growth this year doesn’t justify rapid yuan appreciation,” said Tommy Ong, a Hong Kong-based senior vice president of treasury and markets at DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd. “Yet capital continues to flow into China on an improving growth outlook, which will continue to support the yuan.”
The currency touched 6.2371 per dollar on Oct. 29, the strongest level since the government unified the official and market exchange rates at the end of 1993.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority added HK$2.3 billion ($298 million) into the financial system today to prevent the city’s currency from rising beyond its permitted trading range, data showed. That’s the seventh intervention followed a combined $2.6 billion injection since Oct. 19.
Indonesia’s rupiah fell the most in more than two weeks, declining 0.2 percent to 9,623 per dollar, as a report showed the nation’s exports contracted for a sixth month. The currency fell for a ninth straight month in October in the longest run of losses since Bloomberg began collecting the data in 1991.
Shipments from Indonesia slid 9.4 percent in September from a year earlier, after declining 24.3 percent the previous month, official data showed today. The nation’s current-account shortfall reached a record $6.9 billion in the second quarter.
Elsewhere, Thailand’s baht weakened 0.1 percent to 30.72 per dollar while Malaysia’s ringgit slipped 0.2 percent to 3.0542. India’s rupee and Vietnam’s dong were little changed at 53.7950 and 20,848, respectively.