Ringgit tracks rising crude to lead gains in Asian currencies



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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 16): Malaysia’s ringgit led gains among Asian currencies as crude extended its advance, alleviating concern the net oil exporter’s finances will deteriorate.

Brent rose 0.2 percent Monday, taking its increase since Feb. 11 to 13 percent, as signs of a drilling slowdown in the U.S. bolstered speculation output will decline. Energy-related sources will account for 22 percent of Malaysian government revenue this year, compared with 30 percent in 2014, according to a Feb. 13 report in The Star newspaper that cited central bank Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz.

The Malaysian currency strengthened 0.5 percent to 3.5605 a dollar as of 9:37 a.m. in Kuala Lumpur, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It is still Asia’s worst performer over the past three months, dropping 6 percent, on concern the 45 percent slump in crude since June will erode public finances.

“The market is trading the ringgit as an Asian proxy for oil,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk, a strategist at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong. “The concerns over Greece have been partially alleviated by comments from European politicians that there’s willingness to compromise, and that’s also helping the ringgit.”

Europe’s most indebted nation continues talks with creditors Monday after officials on both sides signaled willingness to compromise before the expiry of Greece’s bailout at the end of the month.

State-owned investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd. hasn’t relied on government guarantees to repay its debt, according to a report in the New Straits Times newspaper Monday, which cited its President Arul Kanda. 1MDB repaid a 2 billion ringgit ($562 million) loan in full before the due date, the company said in a Feb. 13 statement.

The yield on Malaysia’s sovereign bonds due July 2024 was little changed at 3.87 percent after climbing nine basis points, or 0.09 percentage point, last week, data compiled by Bloomberg show.