The Thai baht hit a fresh five-and-a-half-year low on Wednesday amid broader market weakness, which also kept other regional currencies under pressure, as investors fretted over higher global interest rates and rampant inflation.
Leading losses in the region, the baht slipped as much as 0.5% to its lowest since January 2017, with the Bank of Thailand (BOT) warning that a delay in policy normalization could entail greater costs to the economy going forward, minutes of its June policy meeting showed.
“I think the BOT’s move to hike rate won’t help THB that much, as the market have already priced in much more aggressive rate hikes,” said Poon Panichpibool, markets strategist with Krung Thai Bank.
He said the baht could regain some strength once the peak of hawkishness from the US Federal Reserve is in sight.
The BOT had held its key interest rate steady earlier in the month, though the comments in the minutes indicate a more hawkish turn.
Globally, the shift to higher rates by several major central banks has sparked recession worries, leading to a sell-off in riskier assets over recent months.
“Ongoing global growth concerns, inflation worries and fears of tighter financial conditions continue to keep a leash on risk appetite,” Maybank analysts said in a note.
Asian stocks fall; Thai baht dips as key rates likely to be on hold
Other regional currencies also fell against the US dollar, undoing a brief recovery on Tuesday.
The Philippine peso continued to depreciate for the sixth session in a row to hit its lowest since November 2005, after falling as much as 0.6% earlier.
Indonesia’s rupiah dropped 0.4% to a near two-year low, while the Malaysian ringgit was down 0.2%, its biggest drop since June 13.
Investors will closely watch policy decisions from Philippine and Indonesian central banks on Thursday, with analysts differing over how aggressively the banks will act to tame accelerating inflation in the Southeast Asian nations.
The Singaporean dollar, the South Korean won and the Indian rupee fell between 0.2% and 0.4%.
The won extended losses to a fourth straight session to touch its lowest since July 14, 2009.