|10 September, 2019

Philippine peso slips on trade gap, other currencies tread water

China's Aug producer price index drops 0.8%

A worker shows Philippine peso bills inside a money changer in metro Manila, Philippines August 14, 2017.

A worker shows Philippine peso bills inside a money changer in metro Manila, Philippines August 14, 2017.

REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao

The Philippine peso weakened on Tuesday following poor trade figures, while most other emerging Asian currencies held tight ranges ahead of the European Central Bank meeting later this week.

A sharp decline in Chinese factory gate prices also subdued appetite for riskier assets as investors remained nervous about the prospects of a global economic slowdown.

Leading declines in the region, the Philippine peso PHP= traded 0.3% lower, following data that showed the Southeast Asian nation's trade deficit widened to $3.39 billion in July from $2.47 billion in the previous month. That has added further pressure to the Philippine economy, which grew at its slowest in 17 quarters in April-June. 

"As the trade deficit widens, the twin deficit status (together with fiscal deficit) will add further headwinds on the currency when risk sentiment turns sour," analysts from Mizuho Bank said in a client note referring to the peso.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno has flagged a further quarter-point interest rate reduction before the end of 2019, as it expects prolonged global monetary easing. 

In China, factory-gate prices shrank at the sharpest pace in three years in August, data showed on Tuesday, falling deeper into deflationary territory and reinforcing the urgency for Beijing to step up economic stimulus as the trade war with the United States intensifies. 

"The data shows the Chinese economy is still trending lower and there could be more rainy days ahead of us, so the risk sentiment is now being suppressed," Margaret Yang Yan, a market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore said.

Currency market focus now turns to the ECB meeting, which is widely expected to introduce a package of stimulus measures and monetary easing on Thursday to boost an ailing regional economy. 

The U.S. Federal Reserve is also expected to cut interest rates next week.

Among regional currencies, the Malaysian ringgit, which resumed trading after a holiday, advanced 0.2% against the greenback and was the top gainer in the region.

The South Korean won KRW=KFTC erased earlier gains to trade 0.1% higher, while China's yuan was marginally higher.

The Taiwan dollar TWD=TP edged higher, after data on Monday showed the trade-reliant economy's exports rose unexpectedly in August on strong demand for smartphones. 

Financial markets in India were closed for a holiday.

(Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes) ((Shriya.Ramakrishnan@thomsonreuters.com;))

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