TOKYO — Emerging market currencies got a cautious boost on Monday after the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) raised the yuan currency’s daily reference rate against the U.S. dollar. Markets are now nervously awaiting the release Tuesday of mainland Chinese economic growth data for the fourth quarter of last year, with analysts surveyed by AFP forecasting the slowest growth rate in 25 years over 2015 as a whole, and a further slowdown this year. The median prediction in the poll of 18 economists put expansion at 6.9 percent in 2015 — down from 7.3 percent the year before. On Monday, the PBOC increased its reference rate for the yuan by 0.07 percent — the most since the middle of last month.
Emerging market currencies, including the South Korean won and Thailand’s baht, booked gains against the U.S. dollar following the yuan reference rate fixing. The yuan’s recent weakness has been a key contributor to a volatile rout in global stock markets that has characterized the start of 2016. However, analysts warned of another round of market volatility and lingering market nervousness. “Worries about China, the (U.S.) Fed and global growth are likely to drive continued share market weakness and volatility in the short term,” Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors, told Bloomberg News. “Expect volatility to remain high,” Oliver added. The U.S. dollar advanced against the yen on Monday, rising to 117.28 yen from 116.96 yen Friday in New York. The Japanese unit is traditionally considered a safe haven asset in times of geopolitical and economic uncertainty or turmoil. The euro fell to US$1.0893 from US$1.0916 in U.S. trade, while rising to 127.76 yen from 127.68 yen. Investors are awaiting the European Central Bank’s policy meeting this week after it unveiled fresh monetary policy measures last month that were widely dismissed as underwhelming. The won rose 0.22 percent against the U.S. dollar, while the baht tacked up 0.12 percent. The Singapore dollar and the Philippine peso also advanced against the U.S. currency.