© Reuters. A China yuan note is seen in this illustration photo May 31, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration
By Shashwat Awasthi
(Reuters) – Bullish bets on the Chinese yuan hit a more than five-month high despite risks from a slowing property sector, while the prospect of an economic rebound led investors to unwind bearish positions in Thailand’s baht, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday.
Short positions in the Indian rupee, Philippine peso, and South Korean won eased further, while market participants turned bearish on the Singapore dollar, the fortnightly poll of 10 respondents found.
Long positions in the yuan consolidated and were at their highest since early June, buttressed by robust industrial output and retail sales data from the world’s second-largest economy this week.
That helped take some of the spotlight away from debt woes at China Evergrande Group and other real estate companies that still weigh on China’s growth momentum and cloud its economic outlook.
China’s frosty relations with the United States appeared to show early signs of thawing following a virtual meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Traders said the meeting had raised the chances of partial tariff removals, following which the yuan climbed to a 5-1/2-month high.
Things are also looking up in Thailand where the reopening of the tourism sector has raised hopes of an economic revival following a sharp coronavirus-driven slump since last year.
Short bets on the baht, among the region’s worst performing currencies this year, fell back to their lowest since Sept. 9.
Chua Han Teng, an economist at DBS, said while the economy “has started to see the light at the end of the tunnel”, Thailand’s recovery would likely be gradual.
“Consumer and business confidence have started to benefit from looser virus curbs and should continue to tick higher, but have some room to catch up from still weak levels,” he said, adding that tourism would also take time to reach pre-pandemic levels.
That cautious sentiment echoed in the findings of a university survey on Tuesday, which showed the economy is expected to recover only in the second half of 2022 as concerns about fresh COVID-19 outbreaks and curbs remain.
Investors slightly raised long positions in Indonesia’s rupiah and remained modestly bearish on the Philippine peso. Central banks of both countries meet later on Thursday and are expected to leave interest rates unchanged.
The Reuters survey is focused on what analysts believe are the current market positions in nine Asian emerging market currencies: the Chinese yuan, South Korean won, Singapore dollar, Indonesian rupiah, Taiwan dollar, Indian rupee, Philippine peso, Malaysian ringgit and the Thai baht.
The poll uses estimates of net long or short positions on a scale of minus 3 to plus 3.
A score of plus 3 indicates the market is significantly long U.S. dollars. The figures included positions held through non-deliverable forwards (NDFs).
The survey findings ASIAPOSN are provided below (positions in U.S. dollar versus each currency):
-0.87 0.48 0.07 -0.72 -0.15 0.08 -0.04 0.24 0.12
04-Nov-21 -0.51 0.63 -0.09 -0.41 0.1 0.54 -0.07 0.27 0.66
21-Oct-21 -0.55 0.91 -0.27 -1.12 0.3 0.7 0.1 0.44 1.1
09-Oct-21 0.27 1.35 0.2 -0.29 0.28 0.1 0.3 0.84 1.2
23-Sep-21 0.25 0.96 -0.15 -0.5 -0.2 -0.45 0.25 0.56 0.75
09-Sep-21 -0.09 0.33 -0.36 -0.44 -0.69 -0.88 0.23 0.4 0.12
26-Aug-21 0.425 0.868 0.474 0.18 0.326 -0.08 1.192 0.779 1.351
12-Aug-21 0.32 0.69 0.77 0.2 -0.09 0.37 1.39 1.17 1.75
29-July-21 0.27 0.78 0.71 0.27 0.36 0.29 1.4 1.21 1.49
15-July-21 -0.15 0.27 0.53 0.23 0.13 0.68 1.06 1.06 1.56
01-July-21 -0.29 -0.29 0.02 0.36 -0.19 0.5 0.49 -0.04 0.85