Asia FX weakens, dollar steadies before economic data, Fed speakers

Asia FX weakens, dollar steadies before economic data, Fed speakers

China’s yuan fell 0.1% and hit a two-month low against the dollar. The currency was also within spitting distance of the 7 level to the dollar, amid growing concerns over a slowing economic rebound in China.

Focus this week is on retail sales and industrial production data from Asia’s largest economy, which comes after a slew of disappointing readings for April. Manufacturing activity, inflation and imports data all missed expectations in the past month, even as the country rolled back anti-COVID measures earlier this year.

Weakness in China soured sentiment towards other Asian markets, with risk-heavy Southeast Asian currencies losing the most on Monday. The Indonesian rupiah fell 0.5%, while the Malaysian ringgit lost 0.6%.

The Thai baht was among the few outliers for the day, rising 0.3% as the country’s national elections appeared to have swung in favor of the pro-democracy opposition party.

The Thai economy also grew more than expected in the first quarter, data showed on Monday.

The Japanese yen fell 0.3% as producer price index inflation data read softer-than-expected for April, pointing to less pressure on the Bank of Japan to immediately tighten policy.

But the key point of focus for Japanese markets this week is consumer price index inflation data for April, due on Friday. The reading is expected to remain steady from the prior month and well above the BOJ’s annual 2% target.

Among other outliers, the Australian dollar rose 0.3% as it recovered from a one-week low hit last week, while the South Korean won added 0.2%.

Broader Asian currencies remained under pressure as the U.S. dollar retained a bulk of its recent gains. Expectations that the Fed will not cut interest rates this year saw the greenback log its best week since September.

The dollar index and dollar index futures were both flat on Monday. Markets are now awaiting retail sales and industrial production data from the U.S. for more economic cues, after a softer-than-expected consumer sentiment reading on Friday ramped up concerns over a potential recession this year.

Focus this week is also chiefly on a string of Fed speakers, most notably Chair Jerome Powell on Friday. Given that inflation has remained stubborn despite cooling economic growth, markets are seeking more clarity on monetary policy.

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