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Singdollar's stellar run seen ending on monetary easing

Bloomberg
Bloomberg • 2 min read
Singdollar's stellar run seen ending on monetary easing
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The Singapore dollar’s two-year streak as the top-performing Asian currency is seen ending this year as the nation’s central bank may start loosening its policy as soon as April.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore, which uses the exchange rate as its main policy tool rather than interest rates, has let the local dollar appreciate against major trading partners’ currencies to counter price pressures. That may change now as inflation shows signs of slowing. 

“The period of Singapore dollar’s outperformance may be ending as we expect the MAS to commence monetary policy normalization” in April, said Peter Chia, FX strategist at United Overseas Bank U11 -

. “While it may still strengthen against the US dollar, the gains are likely to lag regional peers going forward.”

S$NEER Trending Higher
The local currency has already weakened about 2% against the dollar this year, slipping to the middle of the pack in Asia. A change in the monetary settings could bring more pain for the currency, lowering its chances of leading the region for a third straight year. 

After inflation cooled in January, traders will be monitoring February data this week to see if it opens the door for an easing in the MAS policy next month. The MAS targets the Singapore dollar’s nominal effective exchange rate, or S$NEER and adjusts the pace of its appreciation or depreciation by changing the slope, width and center of the currency band.

See also: Singapore keeps 2024 GDP growth forecast at 1% to 3%; expects gradual manufacturing and trade recovery

DBS Bank sees the central bank waiting a bit longer before easing its policy. “Our view is still for a slight reduction in the slope in July,” said says Philip Wee, senior currency economist at the bank. 

Besides local factors, the Federal Reserve’s moves may also weigh on the Singapore dollar more than its peers. The Fed last week signaled it remained on track for three interest-rate cuts this year. 

“Asian currencies underperform the Singapore dollar when the Fed’s stance keeps the US dollar firm, and recover faster when it relaxes the stance,” said Wee.

 

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