Ringgit touches weakest level since 1998 Asia financial crisis

Against the Singapore dollar, the ringgit was trading up 0.2 per cent at 3.0991 per Singdollar at 11am.
Against the Singapore dollar, the ringgit was trading up 0.2 per cent at 3.0991 per Singdollar at 11am.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (BLOOMBERG) - Malaysia's ringgit touched the lowest level since the Asian financial crisis as investors continue to sell down emerging-market assets and after a crackdown on currency speculators last month exacerbated outflows.

The ringgit declined as much as 0.1 per cent to 4.4805 per dollar, a level unseen since January 1998, according to prices from local banks compiled by Bloomberg, before paring losses to trade little changed at 4.48 at 9.52am in Kuala Lumpur.

Against the Singapore dollar, the ringgit was trading up 0.2 per cent at 3.0991 per Singdollar at 11am, after earlier falling to 3.1060.

The ringgit has lost more than 6 per cent against the US dollar since the US election, the biggest decline in emerging Asia, as expectations that incoming American president Donald Trump will stoke inflation with his fiscal policies spurred outflows from the region. Sentiment towards Malaysian assets has also been hurt by the central bank's move in November to clamp down on trading of non-deliverable forwards even as it provided greater onshore hedging flexibility with revised regulations.

"It is a confluence of the relative decline in cash metric, high foreign holding of bonds sold off, investors' trepidation about FX controls and the underlying political or headline risks," said Mr Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.

With additional information from the Straits Times