- U.S. data bolstered bets for December interest-rate increase
- Seizure of assets linked to 1MDB “unexpected” twist: CBA
Malaysia’s ringgit posted its longest stretch of losses since November on speculation the Federal Reserve will paint a clearer picture this week on its plans for monetary tightening.
While odds that the Federal Open Market Committee will raise rates by December have risen since the start of the month, futures show a greater likelihood of an increase in the first quarter, a move that would reduce the attraction of emerging-market bonds. The ringgit fell for a sixth day as authorities in Singapore and the U.S. moved to seize assets of troubled state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd., which is under multiple investigations for alleged money laundering and embezzlement.
“The Fed’s going to be hawkish,” said Andy Ji, a Singapore-based foreign-exchange strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. “They’re going to shift market pricing somewhat in this meeting.” The latest report on 1MDB “was an unexpected escalation in that development,” he said.
The ringgit fell 0.2 percent to 4.0660 per dollar in Kuala Lumpur and reached 4.0920, the weakest level since June 28, prices from local banks compiled by Bloomberg show. It slid 2.7 percent last week, the biggest loss since September, after the 1MDB report. A slump in Brent crude prices also damped the revenue outlook for Malaysia as Asia’s only major net oil exporter.
Authorities in Singapore and the U.S. are taking action against alleged fraud involving 1MDB. More than $3.5 billion was misappropriated from the company, and about $1 billion was laundered through America’s banking system, the U.S. Justice Department said in filings Wednesday.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore said Thursday it seized S$240 million ($176.3 million) in assets from individuals linked to the alleged fraud at 1MDB. Malaysia’s government said in response that it will cooperate with lawful investigations into local companies or its citizens.
Malaysia’s five-year bond yield was steady at 3.19 percent, according to prices from Bursa Malaysia. The 10-year note yield rose one basis point to 3.66 percent.