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Emerging Asia FX-Soft ahead of expected Fed rate rise

Written by: Staff

SINGAPORE, June 29 (Reuters) Most Asian currencies crept lower on Thursday, with the Philippine peso hitting a 6-{ month low, hurt by expectations that U.S. interest rates will rise later in the day and possibly again in coming months.

Trading ranges were narrow and dealers said markets would be subdued until after the U.S. rate decision, expected at about 1815 GMT.

The Fed is widely expected to deliver its 17th consecutive rate rise, lifting its key rate a quarter of a percentage point to 5.25 percent. The policy statement will be scrutinised for clues on what may comes next.

Central banks in the Philippines and Taiwan also meet on Thursday to review policy.

The Philippine central bank is expected to leave its overnight borrowing rate at 7.50 percent. Concern the Philippines interest-rate advantage over the United States is narrowing has undermined the peso this week.

It fell to 53.65 per dollar on Thursday, its lowest since mid-December and down from Wednesday's local close at about 53.47.

''The market is just covering positions ahead of the Fed interest rate decision,'' said a trader in Manila. ''The 53.65 is a key resistance level for the dollar.'' The Taiwan dollar was quoted at about 32.63 per U.S.

dollar, little changed from Wednesday's close and off six-month lows hit earlier this week at about 32.80.

Economists expect Taiwan's central bank to announce a 12.5 basis point rise in its benchmark discount rate to 2.5 percent after the close of local markets.

''The Philippines will be much more interesting,'' said John Cairns, head of research at IDEAglobal. ''They are unlikely to change rates but we are looking for signals about what they are intending to do.'' The South Korean won eased 0.4 percent to about 961 per dollar, its lowest level in more than a week, while the Singapore dollar slipped about a quarter of a percent to 1.6000 per U.S. dollar -- close to Monday's two-month low.


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