KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — The ringgit held steady and climbed to an over two-month high against the greenback on continued optimism that the US will slow down interest rate hikes going forward amid a smooth government transition in Malaysia.
At 6pm, the local note further strengthened to 4.4795/4890 against the US dollar from Thursday’s close of 4.4910/5000.
Inflation in the US eased to 7.7 per cent in October from 8.2 per cent in September, fuelling hopes for a 50 basis points rate hike in December.
SPI Asset Management managing director Stephen Innes said the US Federal Reserve (Fed) is expected to decelerate from the 75 basis points hiking pace to 50 basis points in December, in line with projections.
Traders also digested other US economic data such as new home sales, which soared 7.5 per cent in October after shrinking by 11 per cent in September. Also, first-time claims for unemployment benefits increased more than expected in the week ended Nov 19.
Back home, Innes said the markets have viewed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as market-friendly.
“A more attractive Malaysian stock market and ringgit (rate) also depend heavily on expectations of China’s reopening.
“Fading concerns over renewed restrictions (in China) would lift all Malaysian assets. So, that is favourable for the ringgit next year … it is clear we have reached peak Fed hawkishness (on interest rates), which is good for Asian currencies,’’ he told Bernama.
Innes said because the ringgit is driven by trade and investment flows, there should be a pick-up of international inflows, which will be very positive for the local currency.
Meanwhile, the ringgit was traded higher against a basket of major currencies.
The local note climbed versus the Singapore dollar to 3.2573/2645 from 3.2678/2749 at Thursday’s close and gained against the euro to 4.6551/6650 from 4.6792/6886 previously.
It also appreciated versus the British pound to 5.4094/4209 from 5.4305/4414 and increased vis-à-vis the Japanese yen to 3.2118/2188 from 3.2412/2479 yesterday.