The South Korean won eased on Thursday as traders grew cautious about prospects for further gains after the government issued verbal warnings about the market’s moves for the second day in a row.
The won was quoted at 1,093.8 as of 0159 GMT, down 0.4 per cent from Wednesday’s close of 1,090.0.
Foreign exchange authorities said the won has been more volatile than other Asian currencies and that they are watching the situation very closely.
“Some bargain hunters are coming in at the 1,090 level, bringing additional pressure on the won,” said Jeong My Young, a foreign exchange analyst at Samsung Futures.
The US dollar took a tumble and Asian stocks rose to one-year highs on Wednesday after surprisingly weak US services sector activity put paid to already slim chances of an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve as early as this month.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4 per cent, extending its chunky gains of 2.7 per cent over the last two days, to claim a level last seen in July last year.
“When people think there’s no immediate rate hike from the Fed, then Asia and emerging markets are the place to go to, as investors seek yields,” said Toru Nishihama, senior economist at Dai-ichi Life Research.
Japan’s Nikkei slid 0.7 per cent, however, as the yen gained sharply versus the US dollar, putting more pressure on exporters in the world’s third-largest economy.
Felda Global Ventures, the world’s third-largest palm plantation operator, reported a 35 per cent rise in second-quarter earnings, supported by stronger crude palm oil production following moves to boost fruit yields.
The Malaysian firm’s net profit rose to RM62.2 million (S$21 million) in the quarter ended June from RM46.1 million in the same period last year.
Revenue eased slightly to RM4.14 billion from RM4.19 billion the previous year.
“Rising commodity prices have provided optimism to the plantation’s earnings outlook and we are in a good position to take advantage of the general tightness in supply,” Felda Global chief executive Zakaria Arshad said in a statement.
Palm oil output is facing a production squeeze this year due to the ongoing effects of a crop damaging El Nino weather event, which brings hot, dry weather to Southeast Asia and lowers fruit yields.
Oil held losses near the lowest close in a week as US crude stockpiles unexpectedly increased, keeping supplies at the highest in at least three decades with the peak summer demand period approaching its end.
Futures were little changed in New York after falling 2.8 per cent Wednesday. Inventories rose by 2.5 million barrels last week, according to the Energy Information Administration.
The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey had projected a decline. Iraq will attend informal Opec talks next month in Algiers, Deputy Oil Minister Fayyad Al-Nima said in a phone interview.
Oil entered a bull market on Aug 18, less than three weeks after tumbling into a bear market. Prices surged partly on speculation that informal discussions among members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers may lead to action to stabilise the market.
The South Korean won rebounded early on Tuesday as investors sold the greenback, taking profits after it strengthened sharply over the past two sessions.
The won was quoted at 1,118.5 as of 0206 GMT, up 0.7 per cent compared with Monday’s close of 1,126.5.
“The won has been reacting to the dollar’s movements most sensitively among Asian currencies recently, which would explain today’s sharp rise,” said Jeong My Young, a foreign exchange analyst at Samsung Futures.
She added that investors will turn their attention to a speech by Fed Chair Janet Yellen in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, later this week for the won’s next moves, although direct hints about the US Federal Reserve’s next policy move seems unlikely.
Australian shares edged higher on Monday as investors digested a mixed bag of earnings results and the possibility of a United States rate hike before long, while New Zealand stocks continued their ascent to record highs.
Companies in Australia were showing they could cope with a mining downturn. But recent comments from Federal Reserve policymakers indicating a rate hike could come at a September policy meeting kept investors cautious.
After see-sawing between positive and negative territory, the S&P/ASX 200 index was up 5.817 points, or 0.11 per cent, at 0234 GMT.
The benchmark was 0.1 per cent lower last week, the first with annual earnings results.
The South Korean won fell nearly 1 per cent on Friday, giving up gains from earlier in the week even as the dollar wallowed at close to twe-month lows.
The won stood at 1,116.7 as of 0217 GMT, compared to Thursday’s close of 1,107.2.
“There is no special reason for the won’s sharp fall. It seems like the investors are deciding to sell the currency just because they view the won isn’t likeley to strengthen anymore,”said Jung Sung-yoon, a foreign exchange analyst at Hyundai Futures.
On a weekly basis, the won was set to decline 1.2 per cent, snapping three consecutive weeks of gains.