Asian currencies mostly up in the week

Asian currencies mostly rose against the dollar over the last week, with major players like the yen firming against the US unit, despite gloomy employment figures that raised doubts over the recovery of the world's second largest economy.

JAPANESE YEN: The yen advanced against the dollar in the past week as falls on Asian stock markets reduced investors' appetite for risk-taking, but lost ground following a report that the jobless rate hit a record high on Friday.

It stood at 93.59 to the dollar in New York late Friday, up from 94.35 to the dollar there a week earlier.

In Tokyo, the yen started the week on a weak note as improved sentiment over a global economic recovery increased sales of the Japanese unit.

But lower Asian share prices pushed up the yen mid-week to a six-month high in the lower 93 yen level at one point on Thursday as concern over prospects for the global economy prompted safe-haven buying.

But the currency lost some of that ground after concerns deepened about the sustainability of Japan's economic recovery following the release of employment figures.

"Regional stock price movement remains a key driver of the currency market," Shinichi Hayashi, a senior trader at Shinkin Central Bank, told Dow Jones Newswires.

The market was also waiting on the outcome of a key election on Sunday, in which the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was expected to oust the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Uncertainty over economic and financial policy following the election also "has the potential to be a source of volatility in the weeks ahead," Morgan Stanley currency analyst Ron Leven said.

But Koji Takeuchi, a senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute, said: "Non-Japanese players will likely take a DPJ victory as positive because they expect the party to become a strong force for change."

AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR: The Australian dollar ended the week on a strong note, amid speculation the central bank could raise interest rates as early as October, dealers said.

A rally in commodities prices also buoyed the resources-based Aussie, which closed Friday at 84.07 US cents, up from 82.95 cents a week earlier.

The Reserve Bank of Australia is widely expected to keep the cash rate steady at a 49-year-low of 3.0 percent for a fifth successive month when it meets in Sydney on Tuesday.

But recent better-than-expected economic data has fuelled speculation that rates could move higher before the year's end, said Royal Bank of Scotland analyst Greg Gibbs.

"We are seeing upside risk for the Australian dollar around the policy talk," Gibbs said.

Worries on policy tightening in China continued to pose a downside risk to the Aussie, and could temper significant gains, he added.

NEW ZEALAND DOLLAR: The New Zealand dollar finished local trading Friday at 68.65 US cents, sharply up from 67.17 the previous week.

The kiwi spent most of the week above 68 US cents and several times tested close to the 69 cents level, a point unreached since September last year.

Trading was generally thin with many northern hemisphere investors on holiday.

"Improving indicators and sentiment we have been noting since March continue to argue in favour of support for risky currencies like the New Zealand dollar," the Bank of New Zealand said.

CHINESE YUAN: The yuan closed at 6.8301 to the dollar Friday, compared with Thursday's close of 6.8320 and a closing price of 6.8312 to the dollar the week before.

The central bank had set the yuan central parity rate at 6.8309 to the dollar Friday, compared with 6.8320 on Thursday.

The People's Bank of China allows a trading band of 0.5 percent on either side of the midpoint.

HONG KONG DOLLAR: The US-pegged Hong Kong unit ended the week at 7.752, flat on the week before.

INDONESIAN RUPIAH: The rupiah ended at 10,055 to the dollar, down from 10,030 the week before.

PHILIPPINE PESO: The Philippine peso fell to 48.80 to the dollar on Friday afternoon from 48.42 on August 20, the last trading day of the previous week.

SINGAPOREAN DOLLAR: The dollar was at 1.4422 Singapore dollars Friday from 1.4438 the week before.

SOUTH KOREAN WON: The won closed at 1,244.40 won per dollar Friday, compared with 1,249.70 won a week earlier, after moving in a relatively tight range throughout the week in accordance with local stock prices.

The central Bank of Korea said Friday the country's current account surplus fell to 4.4 billion dollars in July from 5.43 billion dollars in June, a figure already factored in by the market.

Dealers said the won was likely to move in a tight range in the coming week amid a lack of fresh momentum.

TAIWANESE DOLLAR: The Taiwan dollar fell 0.06 percent in the week to August 28 to close at 32.925 against the US dollar. The local currency closed at 32.906 a week earlier.

THAI BAHT: The Thai baht remained stable against the dollar over the past week in lacklustre trading.

The Thai unit closed Friday at 34.01-02 baht to one dollar compared to the previous week's close of 34.02-03.

Source: AFP

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