Asian units quiet before next week's data release

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 April, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 April, 2000, 12:00am

Asian regional currencies were little changed in late trade yesterday as most markets were closed for the Easter holiday.

Financial markets in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines were shut.

Regional markets are likely to focus on a slew of key economic indicators next week.

South Korea's won closed firmer against the US dollar, flexing its way to the 1,108 won level where the Finance Ministry said it was ready to take action to rein in the currency.

The won finished at 1,108.5 per dollar, compared with Thursday's 1,109, after ranging between 1,108.3 and 1,110.2.

Dealers shrugged off the verbal intervention, which came in the wake of a government think tank forecast that said the won-dollar rate would average 1,090 this year, sharply stronger than its average of 1,188.6 last year.

They said corporate dollar sales pushed the won higher towards the close.

Finance Minister Lee Hun-jai said Korea's gross domestic product was expected to grow about 9 per cent year on year in the second quarter.

The Taiwan dollar held its gains in light trade despite an only slightly firmer finish in the stock market.

The Taiwan dollar closed at NT$30.53 to the US dollar, up from $30.552.

Taipei dealers said the central bank's defence of the currency had discouraged players from testing the downside.

The Indonesian rupiah remained the wrong side of 7,900 in very light trade, with Jakarta closed and key offshore markets like Singapore and Hong Kong also on holiday.

The market will watch closely a meeting between the International Monetary Fund and Indonesian leaders in Jakarta on Monday.

The rupiah has been shaky in recent sessions, sliding near the 8,000 level amid worries over rising political tension and fears Jakarta might not be able to meet IMF reform deadlines.

The Thai baht was little changed in light trade, though Thai stocks firmed as local banks posted their best quarterly results in two years as bad assets fell and spread margins widened.

The baht settled at 37.92 per US dollar, versus 37.90 previously.