KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit closed higher against the US dollar and other major currencies today, supported by rising oil prices, an economist said.
SPI Asset Management managing partner Stephen Innes said that although the US Federal Reserve (Fed) was trying to slow US consumer demand on Friday, Russia’s announcement of a ban on gasoline and diesel exports has provided support to oil prices.
“Despite property market concerns in China and high US yields, the ringgit fared better than expected, likely picking up some residual support from high oil prices.
“But for how long (the support will last) remains the question with the US dollar still very much in the driver’s seat these days,” he told Bernama.
As of 6.13pm, Brent crude oil increased slightly by 0.44% to US$93.68 (RM419.41) per barrel, and the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude gained 0.33% to US$90.33 (RM404.41) per barrel.
Meanwhile, Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd chief economist Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said the ringgit was stable at around RM4.68 per US dollar amid the economic uncertainties.
He said the economic uncertainties loom large as the US Congress is supposed to agree on the spending bill by the end of September, which otherwise could result in a government shutdown.
“If it (the shutdown) materialises, further uncertainties would be on the duration of the shutdown and how it may impact the US economy.
“In the process, some government staff would be furloughed, which means they cannot come to work, especially for the non-essential services,” he said.
In a nutshell, the balance of risks to growth is skewed to the downside.
“It remains to be seen whether this event could tilt the balance in respect to monetary policy stance by the US Fed,” he said.
Afzanizam also said the ringgit’s performance against the greenback could remain in a narrow range in the immediate term.
At 6pm, the local note rose to 4.6850/4.6880 against the US dollar from last Friday’s close of 4.6865/4.6920.
Meanwhile, the ringgit traded higher against a basket of major currencies.
It appreciated against the Japanese yen to 3.1523/3.1546 from 3.1593/3.1632 at last Friday’s close, increased against the euro to 4.9825/4.9857 from 4.9860/4.9918 and was higher against the British pound to 5.7274/5.7311 from 5.7372/5.7439 previously.
The local note traded higher against other Asian currencies, except against the Philippine peso, which was flat at 8.25/8.26.
It improved vis-à-vis the Singapore dollar to 3.4295/3.4319 from 3.4313/3.4359 at last Friday’s close and rose against the Thai baht to 12.9642/12.9772 from 13.0119/13.0322 previously and was marginally higher against the Indonesian rupiah to 304.1/304.5 from 304.7/305.3 previously.