- Brent crude rallied for fifth day Tuesday, gaining 2.9%
- Sale of 1MDB's power assets also boosting ringgit demand
Malaysia’s ringgit rose to a five-week high, while bonds and stocks gained, as a recovery in Brent crude brightened prospects for the oil-exporting nation.
The bounce in oil is helping boost sentiment for the ringgit, which is Asia’s worst-performing currency of 2015 due to tumbling commodities prices and a political scandal involving Prime Minister Najib Razak. The exchange rate also got a lift on Tuesday after China General Nuclear Power Corp. agreed to purchase the power assets of state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd. for $2.3 billion. 1MDB is in the process of winding down amid criticism from lawmakers over its rising debt.
“Brent crude is up and that’s going to help oil exporters and obviously Malaysia will gain from that,” said Nizam Idris, head of foreign-exchange and fixed-income strategy at Macquarie Bank Ltd. in Singapore. “Broad sentiment also improved quite a bit.”
The ringgit climbed 0.8 percent to 4.2150 a dollar in Kuala Lumpur, taking its two-day gain to 2.1 percent, prices from banks compiled by Bloomberg show. It rose to 4.1925 earlier, the strongest since Oct. 19. Brent has rallied 5 percent since the beginning of last week, paring its loss this year to 20 percent.
The 10-year government bond yield fell five basis points to 4.20 percent, the lowest in almost three weeks, according to prices from Bursa Malaysia. The yield on debt due in 2020 dropped four basis points to 3.69 percent, the least since August. The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index of shares rose 0.4 percent, gaining for a fifth day.
The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index, which tracks the region’s 10 most-active currencies excluding the yen, has dropped 4.3 percent this year as demand for emerging-market assets waned amid a potential U.S. interest-rate increase and slowing growth in China. The ringgit weakened 17 percent as Brent prices more than halved from 2014’s peak.
1MDB announced plans in February to dismantle its assets to appease lawmakers and also came under scrutiny after it almost defaulted on a loan. Najib, who heads the advisory board at the company, has found himself embroiled in a political scandal over a donation he received from the Middle East.