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EMERGING MARKETS-Asian currencies broadly steady after yuan move, Taiwan sees export boost

Shriya Ramakrishnan
·3-min read

* Graphic: World FX rates * Graphic: Foreign flows into Asian stocks * Taiwan's July export orders up 12.4% y/y * Yuan pulls back after hitting seven-month high against USD * S. Korean shares stage sharp rebound By Shriya Ramakrishnan Aug 21 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies struggled for direction on Friday as the yuan pulled back after hitting a seven-month high against the U.S. dollar, while the Taiwan dollar strengthened on the back of better-than-expected export orders. The yuan often tends to set the tone for the region's emerging markets, for whom China is the largest trading partner. The currency, which has profited from the dollar's weakness since flirting with long-term lows above 7 per dollar in May, strengthened to 6.896 per dollar in onshore trade, its highest since Jan. 22, before paring gains. The ringgit, won and Thai baht, which have all mirrored the yuan's recovery against the dollar in recent months, hovered around flat for the day in response. Traders said the yuan and other regional currencies should stay supported as long as U.S.-China talks on their existing Phase 1 trade deal do not deliver another shock. "There remain expectations that the rhetoric could heat up on U.S.-China relations, but given the importance of the trade deal to both the U.S. and China, the market is broadly expecting the agreement to stay intact," said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG Asia. South Korean shares staged a sharp rebound, following a more than 3% decline in the previous session as a preliminary trade report showed exports in Asia's fourth-largest economy contracted less in the first 20 days of August than in July. Taiwan's export orders, a bellwether for global technology demand, grew at the strongest pace in two-and-a-half-years in July on strong demand for telecommuting products as the pandemic forced millions of people around the world to stay home. The island's dollar gained 0.5% against its U.S. counterpart and was on course for its biggest weekly gain since early June, while stocks rose 2%. "With the COVID-19 outbreak well under control relative to peers in the region, Taiwan's mobility is less restrictive and business activities could still continue, supporting growth and jobs," said Christopher Wong, a senior FX strategist at Maybank Singapore. In Thailand, shares were up marginally in early trade as further arrests of activists after more than a month of protests against the military-backed government added to political concerns. Markets in Indonesia and the Philippines were closed for holidays. HIGHLIGHTS: ** Thailand's 10-year government bond yields are down 1 basis points at 1.325% ** Top gainers on the Singapore STI include Genting Singapore Ltd up 2.17% at S$0.705, Wilmar International Ltd up 1.83% at S$4.44 ** Top gainers on the Thailand's SETI include Symphony Communication PCL up 14.21% at 4.18 baht, CPL Group PCL up ​12.62% at 1.16 baht Asia stock indexes and currencies at 0414 GMT COUNTRY FX RIC FX FX INDEX STOCK STOCKS DAILY YTD % S YTD % % DAILY % Japan +0.12 +2.79 <.N225 0.44 -2.85 > China <CNY=CFXS +0.11 +0.80 <.SSEC 0.78 11.15 > > India 0.00 -4.86 <.NSEI 0.84 -6.26 > Malaysia -0.10 -2.04 <.KLSE 0.10 -0.74 > S.Korea <KRW=KFTC +0.08 -2.50 <.KS11 2.27 5.83 > > Singapor +0.06 -1.59 0.47 -21.19 e Taiwan +0.48 +2.47 <.TWII 1.91 5.01 > Thailand -0.13 -4.96 <.SETI 0.19 -17.76 > (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Patrick Graham and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)