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Ringgit Drops to Two-Week Low as U.S. Recovery Looks Uncertain

The ringgit declined to a two-week after U.S. home sales dropped unexpectedly in March, casting doubt on the strength of the recovery in Malaysia’s fourth-largest export market. Government bonds fell.

The currency retreated for a fourth day as a report yesterday showed purchases of existing homes in the world’s largest economy fell to a 4.92 million annual rate in March, less than a revised 4.95 million in February and the 5 million forecast in a Bloomberg survey. A preliminary Chinese purchasing managers’ index published today by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics fell to 50.5 in April from 51.6 in March.

“Markets are still fretting over some of the data coming out, which are pointing to a weaker economy,” said Vishnu Varathan, a Singapore-based economist at Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. “We’ve seen U.S. existing home sales disappoint.”

The ringgit weakened 0.2 percent to 3.0535 per dollar as of 4:10 p.m. in Kuala Lumpur, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It touched 3.0565 earlier, the lowest level since April 9. The currency has rallied 1.3 percent this month. One-month implied volatility, a measure of expected moves in exchange rates used to price options, climbed 16 basis points, or 0.16 percentage point, to 8.53 percent.

Malaysian exports dropped 7.7 percent in February from a year earlier, the biggest decline since 2009, a government report showed. Shipments to the U.S. fell 10.8 percent.

The Chinese purchasing managers’ index came in below the 51.5 forecast by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Fifty is the dividing line between contraction and expansion. China was Malaysia’s third-largest overseas market in February.

The yield on the 3.26 percent bonds due March 2018 advanced one basis point to 3.18 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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