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Ringgit Sees Sixth Weekly Decline on Taper Talk; Bonds Advance

Malaysia’s ringgit posted its sixth weekly drop, the longest losing streak since 2005, as signs of a pickup in the U.S. economy bolstered speculation policy makers will trim stimulus. Government bonds rose.

The U.S. reported jobless claims, building permits and consumer confidence data this week that beat economists’ estimates, brightening the outlook for the world’s largest economy. A reduction in Federal Reserve debt purchases is the key risk for the ringgit in 2014, and Malaysia’s external balance remains vulnerable to the global environment, Malayan Banking Bhd. analysts led by Singapore-based Saktiandi Supaat wrote in a report today.

“Some of the data that’s been coming out has been quite a bit firmer so that shows the taper risks aren’t blown as far off as markets had hoped for,” said Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist at Mizuho Bank Ltd. in Singapore. “That forms the broad-based backdrop where emerging-market currencies are a lot more cautious.”

The ringgit depreciated 0.2 percent this week to 3.2240 per dollar in Kuala Lumpur, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It strengthened 0.3 percent today, paring its monthly drop to 2.1 percent. One-month implied volatility, a measure of expected moves in the exchange rate used to price options, fell one basis point this week and five basis points today to 8.23 percent.

Firmer Economy

U.S. applications for new construction increased 6.2 percent to a 1.03 million annualized rate in October, the highest since June 2008, official data show. Jobless claims in the week ended Nov. 23 declined 10,000 to 316,000 and the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment for November unexpectedly rose to 75.1 from 73.2 a month earlier.

The Fed will delay the first cut to its bond-buying program, known as quantitative easing, until March, according to the median estimate of 32 economists in a Bloomberg News survey conducted Nov. 8.

The yield on Malaysia’s sovereign 3.26 percent notes due March 2018 fell three basis points, or 0.03 percentage point, this week to 3.62 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The rate dropped one basis point today.

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