Thai baht firms to 5-month high
Bank of Thailand likely to keep rates unchanged at record low.
The Thai baht firmed along with other Asian currencies on Wednesday, as investors expect the central bank to keep its policy rate unchanged while the dollar weakened following stronger US and European economic data.
US business activity contracted for a fifth straight month in June, but at a slower pace, while surveys showed a historic downturn in the euro zone easing, boosting investors appetite for riskier investments globally.
The won and South Korean shares were lifted by reports that North Korea had decided to suspend military action plans against South Korea.
In Thailand, the baht gained as much as 0.4 per cent to its strongest since late January, while the country’s stock market also rose as much as half a percent.
A majority of analysts polled by Reuters expect the Bank of Thailand to leave rates unchanged to assess the economic impact of three rate cuts earlier this year to soften the blow from the impact of the coronavirus.
While a stronger currency has added to concerns for the export-focused economy, analysts do not expect the central bank to take immediate action on that front. Thai rates are already at a record low of 0.5 per cent.
“Thailand is perhaps amongst the few ahead on the Covid-19 curve in the region and can keep some dry powder for the time being, though another cut later into the year to boost demand should not be ruled out,” said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG Asia.
The mood across most other Southeast Asian equity markets remained sombre as caution prevailed due to a continued spike in global coronavirus infections.
In the Philippines, which reported its biggest single-day increase in infections on Tuesday, the central bank meets on Thursday and is expected to pause after slashing interest rates by a total of 125 basis points this year.
Indonesian equities outperformed, while the rupiah stabilised after three consecutive days of declines.
“I think the re-opening of economic activities in Jakarta and its surrounding areas still bolster investor confidence to tap into our equity market, as well as rupiah,” Anthony Kevin, an economist at Mirae Asset Indonesia said. – Reuters