Singapore markets closed

CORRECTED-(OFFICIAL)- EM ASIA FX-Most Asian currencies firm as China returns to work

By Shriya Ramakrishnan

(Rewrites penultimate paragraph to correct Malaysia GDP forecast to 4.8% from 4.5%) * Philippine peso leads gains * China's Jan factory-gate prices snaps 6 months of y/y declines * S. Korean won hits 1-week low By Shriya Ramakrishnan Feb 10 (Reuters) - Most emerging Asian currencies firmed on Monday as Chinese authorities lifted some work restrictions and implemented measures to support the economy, though concerns around the virus outbreak persisted due to a mounting death toll. Workers began trickling back to offices and factories around China on Monday as the government eased some restrictions on working in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic that has now killed more than 900 people, mostly on the mainland. The Chinese yuan rose 0.2% to 6.988 per dollar, supported by strong corporate demand for the local currency on the first working day since the extended Lunar New Year holiday. Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG Asia, said Asian currencies were receiving some respite from an injection of fresh liquidity into the market by China's central bank and factory-gate inflation readings coming in line with expectations in January. Traders told Reuters that China's central bank injected about 900 billion yuan ($128.77 billion) into the markets via reverse repo operations on Monday. It will also provide special funds for banks to re-lend to businesses combating the virus. Leading gains in the region, the Philippine peso strengthened 0.4% to 50.75 against the greenback. "The peso has been quite resilient. Perhaps, the economic linkage to China in relative sense is lower and hence the downside risks are perceived to be lesser. The growth story in Philippines has been one of the better ones across the region," said Sim Moh Siong, an FX strategist at the Bank of Singapore. However, Siong warned the resilience in some of the regional currencies that have been lagging in the sell-off could crack if concerns surrounding the virus outbreak escalates. The Taiwan dollar edged up 0.1%, while the Indian rupee strengthened 0.2%. Markets will now focus on inflation figures for India due on Wednesday, which is likely to show inflation rose to a near six-year peak in January as food prices stayed high. The Singapore dollar wavered between gains and losses during the session. The country on Friday raised its coronavirus alert level to orange and reported more cases not linked to previous infections or travel to China. Singapore's government last week said its currency has room to weaken to accommodate any economic hit. The local unit has lost about 3.2% so far this year. The Indonesian rupiah slipped 0.3%, while the South Korean won weakened 0.2%. The Malaysian ringgit edged down 0.1%. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday the economy is expected to expand by 4.8% this year, maintaining the government's forecast as it braces for a potential global slowdown tied to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Financial markets in Thailand were closed for a holiday. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Change on the day at 0550 GMT Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 109.770 109.72 -0.05 Sing dlr 1.389 1.3892 +0.03 Taiwan dlr 30.097 30.126 +0.10 Korean won 1188.300 1186.5 -0.15 Peso 50.750 50.94 +0.37 Rupiah 13710.000 13670 -0.29 Rupee 71.345 71.45 +0.15 Ringgit 4.144 4.1405 -0.08 Yuan 6.988 7.0010 +0.19 Change so far in 2020 Currency Latest bid End 2019 Pct Move Japan yen 109.770 108.61 -1.06 Sing dlr 1.389 1.3444 -3.20 Taiwan dlr 30.097 30.106 +0.03 Korean won 1188.300 1156.40 -2.68 Baht 31.270 29.91 -4.35 Peso 50.750 50.65 -0.20 Rupiah 13710.000 13880 +1.24 Rupee 71.345 71.38 +0.05 Ringgit 4.144 4.0890 -1.33 Yuan 6.988 6.9632 -0.35 ($1 = 6.9891 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)