Asian currencies mixed against dollar

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 15 2009 05:51 PM | Updated as of Feb 16 2009 01:51 AM

HONG KONG - Asian currencies ended the week mixed against the dollar after a major economic stimulus unveiled by Washington disappointed markets.

JAPANESE YEN: The Japanese yen held steady in the past week, supported by continued demand for the safe-haven currency amid renewed disappointment over the US economy.

The yen stood at 90.96 to the dollar Friday, compared with 90.97 a week ago, as the dollar was weighed down after US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner disappointed markets by giving few details of the rescue plan for the financial sector, dealers said.

"Markets had been buoyed -- perhaps excessively -- by hope and expectation in the run up to his speech, but were disappointed by the lack of clarity," said Sumitomo Trust & Banking analyst Saburo Matsumoto.

Traders were now waiting to see whether US President Barack Obama would get Congressional approval for a separate economic stimulus package, he said.

Japanese Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa met Geithner Friday for the first time on the sidelines of a meeting among financial chiefs from the Group of Seven powerful nations.

They agreed to fight protectionism, but Nakagawa told Japanese reporters that they did not discuss foreign exchange.

AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR: The Australian dollar is expected to gain next week as the impact of the Australian government's 42 billion dollar (28 billion US) stimulus package begins to kick in, dealers said.

The Australian dollar closed on Friday at 65.77 US cents, up from the previous week's close of 65.40 US cents.

CMC Markets foreign exchange dealer Tim Waterer said the Australian dollar was likely to benefit as traders viewed any moves to stimulate a struggling economy as positive.

"Any government that's proactive, their currency is getting a boost," he said.

The package includes spending of 28.8 billion Australian dollars on schools, housing and roads over four years, tax breaks for small businesses and cash handouts of 12.7 billion dollars to eligible workers, farmers and students.

NEW ZEALAND DOLLAR: The New Zealand dollar ended the week at 52.45 US cents, up from 51.03 the previous week.

Investors were concerned about global stock market weakness and the effectiveness of US government policies in combating recession and that affected demand for the New Zealand dollar, dealers said.

Bank of New Zealand said international news would keep downward pressure on the exchange rate even though large downward movement had already occurred.

"We struggle to see any expansion emerging early this year," BNZ said.

CHINESE YUAN: On the over-the-counter market, it ended at 6.8335 Friday to the dollar, compared with Thursday's finish of 6.8342, and a closing price of 6.8344 to the dollar the week before.

The central bank had set the yuan central parity rate at 6.8334 to the dollar Friday, compared with 6.8327 on Thursday.

The People's Bank of China allows a trading band of 0.5 percent on either side of the midpoint.

HONG KONG DOLLAR: The US-pegged Hong Kong unit was at 7.752 to the dollar, from 7.754 a week earlier.

INDONESIAN RUPIAH: The rupiah ended at 11,850 to the dollar, down from 11,800 the week before.

PHILIPPINE PESO: The Philippines peso rose to 47.120 to the dollar Friday afternoon from 47.195 on February 6.

SINGAPORE DOLLAR: The Singaporean dollar was at 1.5095 to the US dollar on Friday from 1.5064 the previous week.

SOUTH KOREAN WON: The won closed at 1,404.20 won per dollar Friday, compared with 1,383.80 won a week earlier, as foreign investors continued selling in the local stock market for a fourth consecutive day.

Dealers said the won was likely to move in steps with global and local stock markets for a while.

TAIWAN DOLLAR: The Taiwan dollar fell 0.89 percent percent in the week to February 13 to close at 34.050 against the US dollar. The local currency closed at 33.750 a week earlier.

THAI BAHT: The Thai baht extended its fall against the dollar over the past week of heavy trading in line with regional currencies and there were no positive factors to boost the Thai unit, dealers said.

The Thai baht closed Friday at 35.14-16 baht to one dollar compared to the previous week's close of 35.01-02.