FX Flash – Asian FX trumped?

by: Roy Teo

In this publication: Firmer US yields and trade concerns weigh on Asian FX. China to be labelled a currency manipulator?

 

FX-Flash-Asian-FX-trumped-10-November-2016.pdf (174 KB)
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Firmer US yields and trade concerns weigh on Asian FX

In the past 24 hours, Asian currencies have underperformed the US dollar as US yields firmed and concerns that Asia exports to US may be impacted under the leadership of US President elect Donald Trump. The Japanese yen was sold off aggressively from just above 101 to almost 106 overnight as 10 year yields in the US rallied by 30bp to above 2%. Financial markets remain optimistic that the Fed will raise interest rates by 25bp next month (80% priced in) as inflation expectations (5y5y forward) rose by 20bp to 2.4%, the highest level since the middle of 2015. The South Korean won (KRW) and Singapore dollar (SGD) also declined by 1-2% given their higher sensitivity to yields in the US and larger export reliant economic model. Having said that implied volatility in the currency market has generally declined in the past 24 hours, reflecting less anxiety or concerns. The options market demand to hedge against a stronger US dollar has also mostly declined.

 

China to be labelled a currency manipulator?

It remains highly uncertain if US President elect Donald Trump will label China as a currency manipulator. However it is worth noting that the IMF has recently stated that the yuan is no longer undervalued. Indeed the Chinese yuan has strengthened by almost 20% against its basket of currencies since the currency was depeg from the US dollar in the middle of 2010. The yuan inclusion in the SDR basket is also a signal of acceptance from the international community. In addition, the US Treasury has also not labelled China a currency manipulator, noting that China’s current account surplus has narrowed from 3% of GDP in 2015 to 2.4% for the four quarters through June 2016. The US Treasury has also acknowledged that policy makers in China has been intervening in the currency market to support the yuan (rather than to weaken) to prevent a rapid depreciation which would have negative consequences for the Chinese and global economies. Last but not least, a retaliation from China remains a possibility given that the Communist Party holds its 19th Congress next year, a politically sensitive period.