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Ringgit likely to be bearish next week

KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit is likely to be on a downtrend against the US dollar next week as negative global growth sentiment weigh the currency’s performance, said Oanda Head of Trading Asia Pacific, Stephen Innes.

He said the ringgit would be traded at around 4.17 to 4.20 to the dollar while the oil market would also act as a determinant in the currency’s movement.

“Waning global growth sentiment continues to drag equity markets into the tank after a double whammy of major economic data misses has sent investors scurrying for cover.

“Weak growth in both China and the Eurozone are also providing the critical fundamental reasons to be underweight on equities, which will weigh on ringgit sentiment next week as investors flock to US treasuries and support the dollar on haven appeal,“ he told Bernama.

Meanwhile, FXTM Global Head of Currency Strategy and Market Research Jameel Ahmad said the market had widely expected that the US Federal Reserve (Fed) will raise US interest rates for the fourth time this year, and essentially, this had already been mostly priced into the ringgit.

“But the next risk for the ringgit depends on the path of interest rate increases for 2019,“ he added.

Jameel said that doubts were starting to creep in that the Fed would raise interest rates as often as four times next year, which is seen as a significant risk of weakness for the greenback moving forward.

“As one of the emerging markets that is known for being sensitive to US interest rate speculation, guidance that the Fed will not be as active with interest rate policy next year would be digested as positive news for the ringgit in 2019,“ he explained.

For the week just-ended, the ringgit closed mostly lower against the US dollar with the market sentiment moved by oil prices, the US-China trade negotiation outcome and investor worries on global economic outlook.

On a Friday-to-Friday basis, the local note weakened to 4.1830/1880 from 4.1640/1680 against the greenback from the previous week.

The ringgit traded mixed against a basket of major currencies throughout the week.

It depreciated against the Singapore dollar to 3.0393/0434 from 3.0385/0434 and appreciated against the British pound to 5.2635/2710 from 5.3116/3184.

Vis-a-vis the Japanese yen, the ringgit went up to 3.6842/6895 from 3.6899/6937 and strengthened against the euro to 4.7239/7299 from 4.7320/7373. — Bernama

Ringgit weaker against US dollar

KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit weakened against the US dollar today as news that China’s retail sales and industrial production data was less than expected, was bearish for the local market, said OANDA Head of Trading Asia-Pacific Stephen Innes.

At 6 pm, the local note traded at 4.1830/1880 against the US dollar from Thursday’s 4.1780/1820.

The ringgit was seen tracking the movement of China’s renmimbi for quite some time as the latter was one of Malaysia’s major investors.

“I must admit I’m a bit surprised the ringgit did not trade with a more positive bias as US-China trade tensions have improved while the local unit should find support from a probable US Federal Interest rate pause in 2019.

“The market is indeed caught in the year-end malaise with local investors now fretting over oil markets and the outlook for global growth in 2019,” he told Bernama.

Against major currencies, the ringgit rose to 5.2635/2710 from 5.2902/2957 against the pound yesterday and improved to 4.7239/7299 versus the euro from 4.7533/7587 yesterday.

It strengthened slightly against the Singapore dollar to 3.0393/0434 from 3.0479/0519 on Thursday but slipped against the yen to 3.6842/6895 from 3.6817/6859 yesterday. — Bernama

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Ringgit to strengthen to below RM4 against US dollar by early 2019: Rakuten Trade research head

KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit is expected to gradually appreciate against the US dollar towards end of the year and strengthen below the RM4 level by early 2019, according to Rakuten Trade Sdn Bhd’s head of research Kenny Yee.

The local unit weakened 0.1% to 4.1865 against the greenback as at 5pm yesterday. Year-to-date, it has depreciated 3.4%.

“By end of this year, I expect it to improve to the RM4.05-RM4.10 level and should dip below RM4 early next year. Hopefully the foreign funds have started to flow back into Malaysia by that time,” Yee told the media during the fully online broker’s market outlook briefing here today.

“Initially, early this year we expect the ringgit to hover around RM3.80-RM3.90 level, but looking at what had happened in the US (rate hikes) and the recent (weakening of) Chinese renminbi, I think the ringgit has performed worse than expected,” he added.

Hence, Yee said the foreign funds are likely to return in the near term to take advantage of the lower ringgit.

Year-to-date, he said the foreign net selling stood at almost RM11 billion.

Moreover, Yee said Malaysia, which has a lower average market volatility compared with Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, is known as the region’s safe haven for foreign funds and is likely to attract foreign investors’ interest.

“Malaysia is usually known as the region’s more defensive market, and it is a preferred destination for foreign funds,” he added.

The firm however substantially reduced its corporate earnings growth forecast for 2018 and 2019 to 4.1% and 4.2% respectively, from 6.8% and 8.3% previously on the back of the sharp earnings downgrade in the gaming, telecommuni-cation and plantation sectors.

“Going forward, we expect banking sector will continue to be the main catalysts for earnings growth,” he said.

However, for 2020, the firm expects a better performance for Malaysian com-panies with an estimated 7.6% growth.

Rakuten Trade’s top picks among the FBM KLCI component stocks are Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), Genting Bhd, CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, Axiata Group Bhd and Gamuda Bhd.

Yee noted that the index-linked blue chips are ripe for the picking following some of the heaviest sell-off seen in May and June.

In the small and mid cap space, Rakuten Trade favours Kelington Group Bhd, HSS Engineers Bhd, Malaysia Building Society Bhd, Perak Transit Bhd and Vizione Hold-ings Bhd.

According to Yee, the FBM KLCI is anticipated to grow over 7% or 100 points from the current 1,660 points to touch 1,780 points by year-end and reach 1,840 points in 2019 based on 16 times the market’s forecast earnings.