Stimulus hopes, oil price upswing lift Asian currencies

Singapore's dollar advanced as data showing December inflation was higher than expectations

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Singapore currency notes are seen through a magnifying glass among other currencies in this photo illustration taken in Singapore April 12, 2013 Reuters

Most emerging Asian currencies extended gains on Monday as a surge in oil prices and expectations of more stimulus from central banks supported appetite for riskier assets.

The South Korean won and the Taiwan dollar led regional gains on month-end corporate demand.

Singapore's dollar advanced as data showing December inflation was higher than expectations.

Crude prices extended gains in Asia after a 10 percent jump on Friday due to a huge snowstorm on the U.S. East Coast and as investors scrambled to cover short positions.

Hope grew over possible monetary policy easing by major central banks.

The U.S. Federal Reserve starts a two-day policy meeting on Tuesday. Investors are keeping an eye on whether the possibility of cooling inflation and recent global market turmoil could prompt the Fed to indicate a slower pace of interest rates rises.

The Bank of Japan will conclude its meeting late in the week and it is likely to cut its core consumer inflation forecast for the coming fiscal year to possibly below 1 percent, sources say.

A worse-than-expected drop in Japanese exports in December should keep the Bank of Japan under pressure to act as early as Friday, though most economists believe it will wait until April.

Last week, the European Central Bank signalled additional steps to spur inflation.

Still, traders and analysts doubted if emerging Asian currencies would continue to appreciate in the longer term, citing a weak outlook for the region's export-reliant economies unless global demand begins to improve.

"Improving market sentiment could see downward corrections in dollar/EM Asian FX continuing in the coming sessions," said Qi Gao, an emerging Asian currency strategist for Scotiabank in a note.

"However, we would prefer to add to our long dollar positions on dips."

This article was first published on January 25, 2016