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Ringgit Strengthens as U.S. Jobs Report Brightens Export Outlook

March 13 (Bloomberg) -- The ringgit rose toward a two-week high after data showed a recovery in the U.S. jobs market, boosting Malaysia’s export outlook. Government bonds were steady.

The fewest workers on record were fired in the world’s largest economy in January and job openings rebounded, according to official figures released yesterday. The U.S. was the fourth-biggest buyer of Malaysian goods last year. Prime Minister Najib Razak, who must dissolve parliament by April 28 for a general election, said on television yesterday he was “cautiously optimistic” ahead of the polls.

“There’s a general air of confidence that the U.S. economy is looking a lot firmer,” said Jonathan Cavenagh, a currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. in Singapore. “The Malaysian PM was talking more positively last night about his prospects of getting re-elected and that helped the ringgit sentiment.”

The ringgit climbed 0.1 percent to 3.1075 per dollar as of 4:12 p.m. in Kuala Lumpur, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It touched 3.0964, near the 3.0876 level reached on Feb. 28 that was the strongest since Feb. 14. One-month implied volatility, a measure of expected moves in exchange rates used to price options, fell 33 basis points, the most since Nov 26, to 6.35 percent.

The yield on the 3.26 percent bonds due March 2018 was 3.23 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Liau Y-Sing in Kuala Lumpur at yliau@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Regan at jregan19@bloomberg.net

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