Ringgit drops to five-year low as U.S. jobs data fuel rate bets

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KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 8):  Malaysia’s ringgit fell to the weakest level since September 2009 and government bonds retreated as a strengthening U.S. jobs market bolstered the case for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose the most in five weeks on Dec. 5 after a report showed U.S. payrolls increased by 321,000 last month, the most in almost three years and beating the most optimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey. Brent crude extended its decline from the lowest in almost five years, reinforcing concern about a drop in revenue for Malaysia, a net oil exporter.

“The dollar strengthened across the board following the stronger-than-expected payrolls number,” said Khoon Goh, a Singapore-based strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. “In addition, oil prices remain under downward pressure, which is also weighing on the ringgit.”

The ringgit declined 0.5 percent to 3.4885 per dollar as of 9:26 a.m. in Kuala Lumpur, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The currency earlier reached 3.4981, the lowest in more than five years, and has lost about 2 percent in the past four days.

One-month implied volatility, a measure of expected moves in the exchange rate used to price options, rose 22 basis points, or 0.22 percentage point, to 8.99 percent, the highest since November 2013.

Malaysia’s foreign reserves dropped 0.7 percent to $125.7 billion as at Nov. 28 from two weeks earlier, the lowest level since April 2011, according to a Dec. 5 report from the central bank.

The yield on Malaysia’s 3.394 percent sovereign debt due March 2017 climbed two basis points to 3.66 percent, the highest since the notes were sold in March, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Five-year bonds fell, with the yield rising five basis points to a seven-month high of 3.87 percent.