Ringgit Forwards Decline to Two-Week Low on Election Speculation

Malaysian ringgit forwards dropped to their lowest level in almost two weeks as speculation about the timing of the general election drove investors to pare holdings in the country’s stocks.

The benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index of shares sank 2.4 percent yesterday, the biggest loss since September 2011. The gauge fell 0.7 percent today. Prime Minister Najib Razak, who must dissolve parliament by April 28, saw his approval rating drop to a 16-month low in December, the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research said in a Jan. 10 statement.

“The elections are becoming a rather sensitive issue,” said Choong Yin Pheng, senior manager for fixed income and economic research at Hong Leong Bank Bhd. in Kuala Lumpur. “That could be part of the reason that’s contributing to the currency’s weakness.”

Twelve-month non-deliverable forwards fell 0.1 percent to 3.0937 per dollar as of 4:24 p.m. in Kuala Lumpur, after retreating 0.8 percent yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. They touched 3.1057 earlier, the weakest level since Jan. 9. The contracts to buy or sell the ringgit in a year traded at a 1.9 percent discount to the spot rate. Non-deliverable forwards are settled in dollars.

The ringgit declined 0.1 percent to 3.0388 per dollar, data compiled by Bloomberg show. One-month implied volatility, a measure of expected moves in the exchange rate used to price options, rose 15 basis points, or 0.15 percentage point, to 5.37 percent.

A government report tomorrow may show Malaysian consumer prices rose 1.4 percent in December from a year earlier, compared with 1.3 percent in November, according to the median estimate of 15 economists in a Bloomberg survey.

Government bonds advanced. The yield on the 3.172 percent notes maturing in July 2016 fell one basis point to 3.16 percent, according to Bursa Malaysia.

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