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Ringgit Strengthens for Fourth Week on Global Recovery Optimism

Malaysia’s ringgit headed for a fourth weekly advance as U.S. economic data that topped estimates boosted optimism a global recovery is on track.

Housing starts in the world’s largest economy climbed 12.1 percent last month to a 954,000 annual rate, exceeding all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists, while applications for jobless benefits decreased to 335,000, less than the 369,000 claims predicted, reports showed yesterday. Malaysian inflation quickened to 1.4 percent in December from 1.3 percent in November, according to a separate poll of analysts before official figures due on Jan. 23.

“There’s a lot of risk-on sentiment after U.S. data came in stronger than expected,” said Vishnu Varathan, a Singapore-based economist at Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. A pickup in China’s economy “is also helping Asian currencies,” he said.

The ringgit strengthened 0.2 percent today to 3.0098 per dollar as of 4:05 p.m. in Kuala Lumpur, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It reached 3.0068 earlier, approaching a Jan. 15 level of 3.0032 that was the strongest since March. The currency climbed 0.4 percent for the week.

One-month implied volatility, a measure of expected moves in the exchange rate used to price options, retreated two basis points, or 0.02 percentage point, today to 5 percent.

Gross domestic product in China expanded 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter, faster than 7.4 percent in the three months ended September, according to an official report today.

Malaysian government bonds were little changed. The yield on the 3.418 percent notes maturing in August 2022 was at 3.47 percent, according to Bursa Malaysia. The rate decreased two basis points from a week ago.

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