Emerging currencies higher on US jobs report

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TOKYO: Emerging market currencies rallied against the dollar on Monday after the mood on regional trading floors got a strong boost from a solid US monthly jobs report and further gains in oil prices.

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On Friday, the US Labor Department said that the world’s top economy added a robust 242,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate held at 4.9 percent, an eight-year low. The positive figures lifted hopes of a pickup in petrol demand.

Despite the upbeat figures, analysts said they did not expect the Federal Reserve to lift interest rates when they hold their next policy meeting next week, with policymakers still wary after the global market rout in the first two months of the year.

“There’s a better environment for risk, which is helping sentiment for currency markets in the region,” Mitul Kotecha, head of Asian foreign-exchange and interest-rate strategy at Barclays Plc in Singapore, told Bloomberg News.

“Asia’s taking the cue from the bounce in stocks,” Kotecha added. “Oil’s been rallying and generally some of the major concerns we saw earlier in the year seem to be receding at least for now.”

The oil-linked Malaysian ringgit jumped 0.47 percent and the Taiwan dollar rose 0.68 percent. The South Korean won climbed 0.29 percent, while Indonesia’s rupiah tacked on 0.56 percent and the Philippine peso was up 0.29 percent.

The labor market figures were “not placing upward pressure on wages and inflation, which should keep the Fed on hold at their March policy meeting,” Matthew Sherwood, head of investment strategy at Perpetual Ltd. in Sydney, wrote in an email to clients.

The dollar slipped to 113.69 yen from 113.79 yen in New York late Friday, while the euro weakened to $1.0989 and 124.94 yen from $1.1008 and 125.26 yen.

On Monday, investors weighed China’s decision to cut its growth forecast to 6.5-7 percent for this year—in line with expectations.

They are also keenly awaiting Thursday’s policy meeting of the European Central Bank—the first major central bank to meet this month.

AFP

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