Asian currencies benefit from weaker US jobs data

Weaker than forecast US September jobs data, delayed in the wake of the government shutdown, spurred risk appetite overnight pushing equities higher helped further by encouraging US Q3 earnings. The employment report revealed that jobs growth slowed to 148,000 while the unemployment rate declined slightly to 7.2%.

In contrast to the reaction in risk assets, 10 year US Treasury yields dropped to around 2.5% and the USD took another hit as the data was perceived to provide more concrete evidence that the Fed will only begin to slow its asset purchases next year, with many now looking for tapering to only begin in March 2014.

Unfortunately for the USD this effectively means its attraction as a funding currency may continue for longer than previously expected. Consequently gold prices rallied benefiting from both the drop in yields and weaker USD.

Data today (Bank of England MPC minutes, Bank of Canada rate decision, terms of the European Central Bank’s Asset Quality Review) will not be as important for markets but it is clear that fundamentals are taking a bigger grip on market direction after a period of being relegated to the sidelines in the wake of US political mayhem.

Asian currencies have benefitted from the drop in the USD overnight and the potential further delay in tapering to Mach next year. The main gainers of recent weeks are those that stand most to gain from delayed tapering (ie those with external funding requirements and that are most sensitive to US Treasury yields). In this respect the IDR, MYR and INR have been the best performing Asian currencies so far this month and look best placed to benefit in the short term from the consequences of the weaker US jobs report.

Against the backdrop of delayed tapering equity capital inflows to Asia have continued their steep recovery since the beginning of September, providing another layer of support to Asian FX. India, Korea and Taiwan have been major winners in this respect, with a surge in equity flows registered to these countries. However, the INR’s ability to benefit is partly negated by continued outflows from India’s bond markets.

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