Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Malaysian currency weaken as foreign capital outflow

Foreign capital outflow a trend in emerging markets these days

The ringgit, which has been described as being in a tight spot, has fallen 6.6% since May 22, when the Fed first raised the spectre of an early stimulus withdrawal, reports the Singapore Business Times.

THE outflow of foreign capital from emerging markets is the trend these days.

The ringgit, which has been described as being in a tight spot, has fallen 6.6% since May 22, when the Fed first raised the spectre of an early stimulus withdrawal, reports the Singapore Business Times.

The ringgit has been trading at three-year lows against the US dollar, and month-long selling has pushed 10-year Malaysian government bond yields to their highest in 2½ years, says the report.

The reason is “an exodus of foreign capital, as investors reassess emerging markets most at risk from a withdrawal of US easy money policy,” it adds.

The Indian rupee has dropped more severely by 8.5% since May 22.

India has been described as being “caught in the middle”, as the United States ponders tapering off its quantitative easing policy, causing volatility in emerging markets, as investors pull money out.

India was enjoying a growth rate of 9% just two years ago. Now, the Reserve Bank of India is forecasting growth at 5.5% for the fiscal year ending next March, says the SBT.

Reliance on foreign capital has always been a dangerous game, and the authorities are well aware of that.

In some quarters, it is a known fact that foreign capital is not really welcome, as it wreaks havoc with its large movements.

Economies in South-East Asia, especially, have to be very cautious of foreign capital, as the impact can be severe once they withdraw their funds.

Fund flows are usually tracked by central banks, which will have an indication of the inflows and outflows.
The economy itself should be fundamentlly strong and able to withstand the shock of any outflow.

High economic growth is not really the objective in this case, but rather steady, resilient and broad-based growth.

Investors in emerging markets should be prepared for such a phenomenon and get ready with their asset allocation strategies.

Mark Mobius, the executive chairman of Templeton EM Group, was quoted by The Economic Times of India as saying that funds were expected to flow back into emerging markets.

“We think there will be a bounce-back because there has been too much negativity and that has pushed prices down to levels where there is a chance of an upsurge again,” he is quoted as saying.

The Australian central bank has cut rates for the eighth time in less than two years in a bid to improve sluggish growth, as a boom in mining investment over the past decade comes to an end, says the International Herald Tribune (IHT).

The Reserve Bank of Australia lowered its benchmark cash rate by a quarter of a percentage point to a record low of 2.5%, bringing the total cuts since November 2011 to 2.25 percentage points.

The Australian currency, which is closely watched by investors and parents with children studying in that country, has fallen about 15% against the US dollar since mid-April.

However, the currency remains well above where it has been for much of the past two decades, says the IHT.

The Australian dollar has rallied lately on positive economic data from China.

As new resource investments peter out, the Australian government is seeking to rebalance its economy, with strength in sectors such as tourism and manufacturing.

There are diverging trends in the Australian economy, where unemployment has edged up, with “signs of increased demand for finance by households”.

However, the pace of borrowing has remained “relatively subdued”.

It will be interesting to watch how the Australian dollar performs over the next few months and assess whether it is timely to invest in it.

Plain Speaking By Yap Leng Kuen contributed to this post.
Columnist Yap Leng Kuen sees a lot of investment opportunities in emerging markets.

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