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PUBLISHED: Aug 15, 2014 5:58pm

Ringgit at 9-month high

Malaysia ringgit

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15:

The ringgit climbed to a nine-month high after the economy expanded at the fastest pace in six quarters and current-account data beat estimates.

Gross domestic product rose 6.4% in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to data from the central bank today. That exceeded the 6.2% increase in the first three months and the 5.8% median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

The current-account surplus was RM16 billion, surpassing the RM11.4 billion ringgit forecast. The ringgit is Asia’s best performer in the past three months.

The currency appreciated 0.8% to RM3.1537 per US dollar in Kuala Lumpur and touched RM3.1532 earlier, the strongest since Oct 31, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

It rose 1.7% from Aug 8, the biggest five-day gain since Sept. 20. The ringgit has climbed 2.3% in the past three months.

“The stronger-than-expected macro numbers strengthen the case for another policy rate increase,” said Wong Chee Seng, a currency strategist at AmBank Group in Kuala Lumpur. “That’s what is driving the interest in the ringgit.”

The central bank raised its benchmark policy rate for the first time in three years, by 25 basis points to 3.25% on July 10.

One-year interest-rate swaps gained three basis points to 3.77%, signalling investors anticipate more increases in the next 12 months. The next meeting is due on Sept 18.

Asian currencies also had their biggest weekly gain in more than four months as an uneven recovery in the US increased bets the Federal Reserve will delay raising interest rates, boosting demand for riskier assets.

“We had a confluence of supportive factors,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk, a Credit Agricole CIB strategist in Hong Kong.

The US data reduced “fears of capital outflows from Asia back to the US market. Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have eased, which is supportive for all emerging markets.”

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