Baht hits 3-year low, Asian currencies retreat

The Thai baht set a three-year low and the Indonesian rupiah hit a five-year trough on Friday, as the US dollar stayed buoyant in the wake of the Federal Reserve's decision to start scaling back its bond-buying stimulus. -- ST FILE PHOTO: CAROLI
The Thai baht set a three-year low and the Indonesian rupiah hit a five-year trough on Friday, as the US dollar stayed buoyant in the wake of the Federal Reserve's decision to start scaling back its bond-buying stimulus. -- ST FILE PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The Thai baht set a three-year low and the Indonesian rupiah hit a five-year trough on Friday, as the US dollar stayed buoyant in the wake of the Federal Reserve's decision to start scaling back its bond-buying stimulus.

The baht, which has also been pressured recently by political tensions in Thailand, fell to 32.58 against the dollar , its weakest level since mid-2010, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The Indonesian rupiah fell to 12,250 per dollar, the rupiah's lowest level since December 2008.

Asian currencies slipped broadly, with the Singapore dollar, Malaysian ringgit, and Philippine peso hitting three-month lows. The Taiwan dollar touched its lowest level since late August at one point, but later edged higher.

Moves in short- to medium-term US bond yields could become a focal point for emerging Asian currencies in the near term, said Jonathan Cavenagh, foreign exchange strategist for Westpac in Singapore.

"What was kind of very interesting overnight was the fact that the short end of the yield curve started actually moving in the US You actually saw five-year yields jump more than 10-year yields," Mr Cavenagh said.

"If we start getting more focus on the shorter end of the curve, then it could turn into a quite a powerful US dollar rally," he said.

A point to watch will be whether the market starts to question the Fed's forward guidance that short-term interest rates will stay low for a very extended period of time, Mr Cavenagh added.

The Fed announced on Wednesday that it would reduce the pace of its monthly asset purchases by US$10 billion, bringing them down to US$75 billion, starting in January.

The US central bank sought to temper the long-awaited move by suggesting its key interest rate would stay at rock bottom even longer than previously promised.