Thai Baht emerges as Asia’s top currency
Published on: Thursday, May 21, 2020
By: Bloomberg
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SINGAPORE: After lagging other Asian currencies for most of the year, Thailand’s baht has staged a sharp rebound to outperform its peers.

The baht has rallied almost 1.5pc in May after dropping over 7pc in the first four months of 2020. Traders are betting Thailand’s tourism-dependent economy will recover swiftly from the virus-induced slump as economies begin to reopen.

“The sooner availability of a vaccine will mean a quicker recovery in industries such as retail and tourism, and as such currencies relying more on these sectors may respond more,” said Frances Cheung, the Singapore-based head of Asia macro strategy at Westpac Banking Corp.

Yanxi Tan, a foreign exchange strategist at Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), expects the baht to rise to 31.7 per US dollar by year end as the pandemic dissipates. The currency rallied as much as 0.5pc to 31.872 per US dollar on Tuesday, with sentiment bolstered by signs of progress in developing a vaccine against the virus.

Still, the baht’s rebound may be curtailed after the government warned the economy could contract as much as 6pc this year due to the outbreak. 

Analysts said a relaxation of curbs will boost confidence. Thailand has allowed shopping malls to resume business as part of a phased rollback of its lockdown even as it remains in a state of emergency through May.

“Thailand has done well to contain the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, with the country gradually reopening businesses and easing restrictions,” says Chang Wei Liang, a macro strategist at DBS Bank Ltd in Singapore. “This has given investors confidence that tourism could recover over time, in turn supporting the baht.” 


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