TOKYO: Asian currencies had a fourth weekly gain, the longest winning streak since September, on optimism the global economy is recovering.
China’s economic growth accelerated for the first time in two years, with industrial output picking up, according to government figures released yesterday. Housing starts in the US, the world’s largest economy, topped estimates and applications for jobless benefits declined, reports showed on Jan.17.
“There’s a lot of risk-on sentiment after US data came in stronger than expected,” said Vishnu Varathan, a Singapore-based economist at Mizuho Corporate Bank. The pickup in China’s economy “is also helping Asian currencies,” he said.
The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index, which tracks the region’s 10 most-active currencies excluding the yen, advanced 0.2 per cent this week. The gauge reached a 16-month high yesterday. India’s rupee led gains, climbing 1.9 per cent to 53.7050 per dollar, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Thailand’s baht appreciated 1.8 per cent to 29.74, while Malaysia’s ringgit rose 0.3 per cent to 3.0103.
China’s gross domestic product increased 7.9 per cent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, after a 7.4 per cent gain in the previous three months. Housing starts in the US climbed 12.1 per cent last month to a 954,000 annual rate, exceeding all 84 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.
“Global economic activity is finally bottoming out while tail risk has diminished,” Credit Agricole CIB analysts led by Hong Kong-based Mitul Kotecha wrote in a report released yesterday. “While there is still plenty of event risk, ultra-easy monetary policy, progress in Europe and a pickup in Chinese growth mean that markets can breathe a sigh of relief.”