EM ASIA FX-Most flat after Trump sparks off fresh trade war concerns

By Devika Syamnath

Dec 3 (Reuters) Most Asian currencies were unchanged on Tuesday, as gains against a weaker dollar were offset by concerns about the United States sparking off a trade war with Brazil and Argentina, amid an ongoing dispute with China.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said he would impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Brazil and Argentina, taking the trade war to new pastures even as the United States looks to sign a trade deal with China.

China’s yuan CNY=CFXS weakened slightly from its previous close of 7.0409 despite a subdued dollar .DXY hurt by unexpected decline in U.S. construction spending.

“The weaker DXY has not translated into broad gains for Asian currencies, considering the risk-off tone in the markets triggered by President Trump’s latest tariff tantrum,” Han Tan, market analyst at FXTM said in a note.

Investors remain focussed on U.S.-China trade talks and “are expected to hold back from making large moves in the interim, unless signaled otherwise, amid hopes that a limited trade deal remains a likely outcome,” the FXTM note added.

Less than two weeks remain before President Trump has to decide whether to impose an additional 15% tariff on about $156 billion worth of Chinese products.

Washington’s latest tariff announcement against Brazil and Argentina has dampened prospects for the so-called “phase one” trade deal with Beijing, which is already on tenterhooks thanks to U.S. legislation backing protesters in Hong Kong.

The South Korean won KRW=KFTC was set to be the worst regional performer for the day and declined 0.3%.

Tuesday marks the sixth consecutive session of falls for the won, which is especially sensitive to trade headlines due to South Korea’s dependence on electronic exports.

Singapore manufacturing data, which is expected later in the day, dotted an otherwise light data calendar for the region. The Singapore dollar SGD= traded 0.1% higher.

The Malaysian ringgit MYR= strengthened 0.2% ahead of trade data expected on Dec. 4. The country’s exports likely fell for a third straight month in October, a Reuters poll showed, but trade surplus is expected to expand.

The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar at 0602 GMT.

CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR

Change on the day at 0602 GMT

Currency

Latest bid

Previous day

Pct Move

Japan yen

109.170

108.98

-0.17

Sing dlr

1.365

1.3657

+0.08

Taiwan dlr

30.495

30.509

+0.05

Korean won

1186.800

1183.1

-0.31

Baht

30.270

30.27

+0.00

Peso

51.050

51.04

-0.02

Rupiah

14120.000

14120

+0.00

Rupee

71.600

71.65

+0.07

Ringgit

4.172

4.178

+0.16

Yuan

7.043

7.0409

-0.02

Change so far in 2019

Currency

Latest bid

End 2018

Pct Move

Japan yen

109.170

109.56

+0.36

Sing dlr

1.365

1.3627

-0.14

Taiwan dlr

30.495

30.733

+0.78

Korean won

1186.800

1115.70

-5.99

Baht

30.270

32.55

+7.53

Peso

51.050

52.47

+2.78

Rupiah

14120.000

14375

+1.81

Rupee

71.600

69.77

-2.56

Ringgit

4.172

4.1300

-0.99

Yuan

7.043

6.8730

-2.41

(Reporting by Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

((Devika.Syamnath@thomsonreuters.com; +91 80 6749 1130;))

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