KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit opened lower against the US dollar in early session today as investors stayed on the sidelines for firmer policies by the government to face global economic headwinds.
At 9 am, the local note opened at 4.1670/1700 compared with 4.1620/1670 against the greenback.
A dealer said analysts had predicted that the first quarter (Q1) Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures to be announced on Thursday would show a slowdown, with the unemployment rate reaching the highest since January 2017.
Maybank IB research in a note today said, the jobless rate in March 2019 increased marginally to 3.4% after staying at 3.3% for six consecutive months up to Feb 2019, despite employment growth matching labour force growth.
“Both employment and labour force grew 2.1% year-on-year (y-o-y) in March 2019 to 15.0 million and 15.6 million respectively, maintaining the pace in February 2019, while the number of unemployed increased by 2.5% y-o-y to 521,300 in March 2019 compared with 1.6% y-o-y in February, in turn pushing up unemployment rate (March 2019: 3.4%; Feb 2019: 3.3% y-o-y).
The dealer also called for the introduction of proactive measures to ensure negative effects from the escalating US-China trade war are kept at bay.
“As the tension escalates, businesses and trade will be affected negatively. However, the scenario will also make US and Chinese companies to recalibrate its operations and Malaysia has the capabilities in terms of attracting these businesses,” he said.
In a retaliatory action, Beijing yesterday announced it will impose higher tariffs on US$60 billion worth of US goods beginning June 1, following an earlier move by Washington to hike tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports.
Meanwhile, the ringgit was also traded mostly lower against other major currencies.
The local note traded lower against the Singapore dollar at 3.0440/0467 from 3.0435/0483 yesterday and depreciated against the Japanese yen to 3.8083/8120 from 3.7943/7996.
The local currency, however, inched up vis-a-vis the British pound to 5.4021/4081 from 5.4189/4263 and decreased against the euro to 4.6812/6862 from 4.6768/6837 yesterday.