EM ASIA FX-Asia currencies edge lower due to Sino-U.S. trade deal uncertainty

By Ambar Warrick

* S. Korean won leads intraday losses * Baht bucks the trend with 0.17% gain * U.S. housing starts expected at 1330 GMT (Adds text, updates prices) By Ambar Warrick Nov 19 (Reuters) - Most Asian currencies retreated on Tuesday as uncertainty over a Sino-U.S. trade deal kept risk-driven plays at bay, but they traded in tight ranges ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve and European Central Bank events later this week. Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee's October meeting are due to be released on Wednesday, while markets are also awaiting the first major speech by ECB President Christine Lagarde on Friday. Before that, at 1330 GMT, U.S. October housing starts data could provide insight on consumer spending strength in the world's largest economy. The reading is expected to have risen from the prior month, according to a Reuters poll. "Overall, risk-related plays will continue to be whipsawed by alternating headlines, but in the short term, risk-off plays may still have room to run as uncertainties persist," OCBC's Terence Wu said in a research note. "The lead-in for the Asian currencies is slightly negative today, thus, expect USD/Asia to edge higher on an intraday basis." The Singapore dollar fell slightly, with third-quarter GDP data expected on Thursday. A Reuters poll expects a strong reading, thanks to a recovery in manufacturing. Singapore's exports have suffered a sustained decline due to ructions in global trade caused by the Sino-U.S. tariff war. The Indonesian rupiah declined about 0.1% to the dollar. The country's central bank is widely expected to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged on Thursday, after cutting rates for four straight months. Southeast Asia's largest economy swung to a trade surplus in October, thanks to a lower-than-expected drop in exports, as well as a decline in imports. The South Korean won led regional losses with a 0.36% decline, while the Chinese yuan was largely flat after a stronger-than-expected midpoint fix. Bucking the trend, the Thai baht rose about 0.17%, despite the country recording slower-than-expected third quarter economic growth on Monday. The strength of the baht is a concern, and the export-reliant economy is expected to lag the central bank's growth forecast for this year, the Bank of Thailand's governor said on Monday. The currency is the best performer among its peers this year, having gained more than 7.8% so far. The following table shows rates for Asian currencies against the dollar on Tuesday. CURRENCIES VS U.S. DOLLAR Change on the day at 0512 GMT Currency Latest bid Previous day Pct Move Japan yen 108.590 108.66 +0.06 Sing dlr 1.361 1.3603 -0.04 Taiwan dlr 30.507 30.501 -0.02 Korean won 1168.600 1164.5 -0.35 Baht 30.180 30.23 +0.17 Peso 50.800 50.81 +0.02 Rupiah 14090.000 14070 -0.14 Rupee 71.940 71.84 -0.14 Ringgit 4.158 4.154 -0.10 Yuan 7.026 7.0255 -0.01 Change so far in 2019 Currency Latest bid End 2018 Pct Move Japan yen 108.590 109.56 +0.89 Sing dlr 1.361 1.3627 +0.14 Taiwan dlr 30.507 30.733 +0.74 Korean won 1168.600 1115.70 -4.53 Baht 30.180 32.55 +7.85 Peso 50.800 52.47 +3.29 Rupiah 14090.000 14375 +2.02 Rupee 71.940 69.77 -3.02 Ringgit 4.158 4.1300 -0.67 Yuan 7.026 6.8730 -2.18 (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)