Ringgit more than 3 to the S$
THE Malaysian ringgit weakened to more than three to the Singapore dollar for the first time as a global rout in stocks and commodities intensified, hitting Asia's regional bourses, the Singapore media reported yesterday.
As of 10.22am yesterday, the embattled currency was trading down about 1 per cent at 3.0063 to the Singdollar from Friday's close of 2.9760, reported The Straits Times.
Against the United States dollar, the ringgit tumbled 1.9 per cent to a 17-year low of 4.2615 as of 9.51am in Kuala Lumpur, according to prices from Malaysian banks.
That took its drop this month to 10.2 per cent.
For the year, the ringgit has weakened 18 per cent, the worst rout in Asia, as Malaysia grapples with a slide in crude prices and a political scandal involving Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Global funds have dumped more than US$3 billion (S$4.2 billion) of Malaysian equities this year, the biggest outflow since 2008, and cut debt holdings last month.
Malaysia's international reserves fell to US$94.5 billion as of Aug 14, from July 31's US$96.7 billion, as the funds were used to buffer the ringgit.
The Singdollar, meanwhile, weakened against the US dollar yesterday morning.
At 10.42am, one Singdollar was trading at 70.65 US cents, down 0.7 per cent from its close of 71.15 US cents on Friday.
Chinese evening daily Shin Min Daily News yesterday morning found some people queuing outside the A.R. Money Exchange counter in Bishan even before it opened.
A woman at the head of the line, who gave her surname as Chen, said she had come to get a few hundred ringgit after learning the night before that the rate was favourable to the Singdollar, Shin Min reported.
A man in the queue, surnamed Guo, said his boss, who had heard of the rout of the ringgit, asked him to get some of the currency for colleagues who would be going to Malacca.
Huang Suzhen, co-proprietor of Crante Money Changer at People's Park Complex, said lately that some local firms had traded hundreds of thousands of ringgit for Singdollars in a bid to hedge against the fall.
According to Song Seng Wun, an economist at CIMB Private Banking in Singapore, the ringgit looks likely to weaken further amid Malaysia's unstable political situation, the evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported.
"The Bersih 4 rally in Malaysia this weekend would also decide the performance of the ringgit," said Mr Song, referring to the planned gathering to call for Mr Najib to step down.
Dealer Sim Lai Ngin from MayBank KimEng Securities believes the ringgit will fall to 3.3 against a Singdollar by the end of the year, reported Wanbao.
The newspaper also said the high demand had caused ringgit at money changers to sell out fast yesterday, while suppliers ran out of the currency.