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Most Asian currencies firmed on Wednesday as reports of headway in Sino-U.S. trade talks and easing U.S. bond yields prompted buying of regional risk assets.
The Financial Times reported that top officials from Washington and Beijing had resolved most of the issues standing in the way of an agreement.
Lower U.S. Treasury yields, plus a slightly weaker dollar and yen, also encouraged stronger risk appetites in Asia.
Gao Qi, a forex strategist at Scotiabank, said that given the fears of a global economic slowdown, regional currencies are likely to have near-term gains from reflation policies by major central banks, which could mean “continued portfolio inflows to EM Asia”.
The Philippine peso was Wednesday’s biggest gainer, adding as much as 0.63 percent against the dollar to 52.110, its strongest level since March 12.
The central banks of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines on Friday will sign an agreement on cooperation to promote trade and investment through local currencies, in a bid to trim exposure to volatile global markets.
The Thai baht was largely flat against the dollar
Minutes of the March 20 central bank meeting, released on Wednesday, showed that any further policy tightening would be gradual and dependent on economic performance.
In December, the Bank of Thailand raised its benchmark rate for the first time in more than seven years, by 25 basis points to 1.75 percent.
The Chinese yuan traded about 0.21 percent higher. The currency, which has been especially sensitive to any news from the trade front, lost more than 5 percent in 2018 due to trade tensions with the U.S.
Indonesian markets were closed on Wednesday for a public holiday.
The Indian rupee rose as much as 0.46 percent to a two-week high against the dollar, ahead of a central bank interest rate decision on Thursday.
The Reserve Bank of India is likely to cut by 25 basis points, though some analysts believing the country’s weakening economic growth and subdued inflation outlook warrant a larger reduction.
A Reuters poll saw more than 85 percent of respondents expecting a cut.