Malaysia Boleh: Ringgit leads Asian currencies' gains

Asian currencies completed their biggest gain since 2006 as the region's world-leading economic growth and widening interest-rate premiums attracted capital from overseas.

A Bloomberg report from Singapore said Malaysia's ringgit led gains in Asia last year, advancing 11.8 per cent to 3.0635 per dollar in Kuala Lumpur, its best year since 1973.

The Bloomberg-JPMorgan Asia Dollar Index, which tracks the 10 most-active currencies excluding the yen, climbed 5.2 per cent in 2010 as funds based abroad poured a total of US$63.4billion into shares in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, the report said.

Malaysia's Bank Negara raised interest rates three times to 2.75 per cent to stem inflation amid an influx of overseas capital.

The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index of regional stocks rallied 14.3 per cent last year, beating the 12.8 per cent advance in the Standard & Poor's 500 share index.
How did some other crrencies fare according to the report?

●Thailand's baht climbed 11 per cent last year, the second-best performance in Asia excluding the yen.

● Elsewhere, Singapore's dollar rose 9.3 per cent last year to S$1.2823, the Philippine peso appreciated 5.7 per cent to 43.62 and Taiwan's dollar gained 5.2 per cent in 2010 to NT$30.368.

Singapore's dollar had its best annual performance since 1994 after the central bank last year unexpectedly sought a stronger currency to curb inflation.

It reached S$1.2817 on November 4, its highest level since at least 1981 when Bloomberg began compiling the data, the report said.

● Indonesia's rupiah gained 4.6 per cent to 8,978.

● The Indian rupee appreciated 4.1 per cent to 44.71.

● China's yuan strengthened beyond 6.6 per dollar for the first time in 17 years bringing gains for 2010 to 3.6 per cent on speculation China would seek appreciation to tame inflation.

The currency climbed 0.6 per cent from a week ago to 6.5897.