The dollar advanced against emerging currencies Wednesday in Asia as risk sentiment took a hit on the latest rout in regional stock markets.
Traders moved out of higher-yielding and riskier emerging units after the International Monetary Fund announced overnight it had decided to downgrade its global growth forecast for this year.
US crude prices hitting new 12-year lows and resurfacing worries about a slowdown in China’s economy also added to the gloom, dampening investor appetite for risky assets.
The moves weighed on commodity-linked units such as the Australian dollar and Malaysia’s ringgit, while also pushing emerging units such as the South Korean won and Indonesia’s rupiah lower.
“Risk off sums up today’s market atmosphere,” Daisuke Karakama, the chief market economist at Mizuho Bank, told Bloomberg.
“Risk aversion stems from concerns about the Chinese economy.”
The dollar dropped to 116.97 yen from 117.59 yen Tuesday in New York.
Wednesday’s sell-off followed more positive developments the previous day, when sentiment had received a boost after China released data showing the world’s second-largest economy grew last year in line with expectations.
Official figures showed China’s GDP growth came in at 6.9 percent last year, still its weakest rate for a quarter of a century and below the 7.3 percent of 2014.
However, worries about slower Chinese and worldwide growth resurfaced after the IMF cut its growth outlook for the global economy to 3.4 percent from 3.6 percent previously, saying there were substantial risks in major emerging market economies.
The Aussie lost 0.58 percent against the greenback, while the ringgit was down 0.29 percent.
The won dropped 0.65 percent, the rupiah fell 0.37 percent and the Singapore dollar declined 0.1 percent.
Thailand’s baht, meanwhile, lost 0.06 percent and the Taiwan dollar was off 0.2 percent.
New Zealand’s dollar also fell, losing 0.45 percent as the country’s inflation came in at the weakest level in 16 years, fuelling speculation authorities could cut interest rates from already record lows.
Euro trade was mixed ahead of the European Central Bank’s policy meeting Thursday in Frankfurt after it unveiled fresh stimulative measures last month that were widely dismissed as insufficient.
The single currency rose against the greenback, fetching $1.0951 from $1.0912 Tuesday in New York, while dropping to 128.10 yen from 128.33 yen.
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