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Thai Baht Weakens as Investors Seek Safety Before U.S. Election

Thailand’s baht dropped to a one-month low as investors sought the relative safety of the dollar ahead of the U.S. presidential election tomorrow. Government bonds were little changed.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell while the Dollar Index, which tracks the currency against those of six major trading partners, touched a two-month high. A Nov. 2 report showed hiring in the U.S. rose more than forecast in October, the last employment data before voters decide between giving President Barack Obama another four years in office or changing course with Republican Mitt Romney. Romney has said he wouldn’t appoint Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke to a third term.

“Investors may prefer the dollar as a safe-haven asset before the election,” said Disawat Tiaowvanich, a foreign-exchange trader at Bangkok Bank Pcl. “If Obama wins, Bernanke will stay and it won’t affect much in terms of the Fed policy. But for now, it’s very difficult to say what will happen.”

The baht slumped 0.3 percent to 30.81 per dollar as of 3:09 p.m. in Bangkok after touching 30.89 earlier, the weakest level since Oct. 1, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. One-month implied volatility, a measure of exchange-rate swings used to price options, was unchanged at 4.27 percent.

The Bank of Thailand is monitoring the U.S. election closely as it may affect financial markets, Deputy Governor Pongpen Ruengvirayudh said today. “Many parties speculate that if Romney wins the election, the U.S. policies will be changed,” she said.

The yield on the 3.25 percent notes due June 2017 held steady at 3.02 percent from Nov. 2, when it reached its lowest level since January, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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