Ringgit Touches Six-Month Low After China Data Trails Estimates

Malaysia’s ringgit fell to a six-month low after Chinese industrial production and retail sales trailed economists’ estimates, damping the Southeast Asian nation’s export outlook. Government bonds advanced.

Output rose 9.9 percent in the first two months of 2013, the weakest start to a year since 2009, official data from China, the second-biggest buyer of Malaysian goods last year, showed March 9. Bank Negara Malaysia said the global economy still faced uncertainties as it left interest rates unchanged on March 7. Government reports released today showed growth in Malaysian overseas sales and factory production accelerated in January.

“The ringgit’s move was basically because of the China numbers, which didn’t turn out too good,” said Choong Yin Pheng, senior manager for fixed income and economic research at Hong Leong Bank Bhd. in Kuala Lumpur. “Probably that raised a bit of growth concern.”

The ringgit weakened 0.2 percent to 3.1110 per dollar as of 4:37 p.m. in Kuala Lumpur, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It touched 3.1170, the weakest since Sept. 7. 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 6.80 percent.

Malaysian exports advanced 3.5 percent in January from a year earlier, after dropping 5.8 percent the previous month. The median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg survey was for a 1.6 percent increase. Industrial production expanded 4.6 percent, below the 5.6 percent forecast in a separate Bloomberg survey, official data showed today. Output rose 3.5 percent in December.

The yield on the 3.741 percent bonds due February 2015 fell one basis point to 2.96 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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