Vietnam dong falls to weakest level in six months; bonds steady

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Vietnam's dong on Tuesday fell to the weakest level in almost six months as the central bank set the currency's reference rate lower. Government bonds were steady.

The State Bank of Vietnam set the daily rate 0.1 percent weaker at 20,723 per dollar, the eighth time this month it fixed a lower level, according to its website. The currency has dropped 0.6 percent since Sept. 23, when preliminary data from the General Statistics Office showed the nation's trade deficit widened to $1 billion last month from a revised $396 million in August.

"Factors that put pressure on the dong are still there: trade deficit and dollar loans maturing around this time," said Nguyen Tan Thang, head of fixed-income research at Ho Chi Minh City Securities Corp. "There's also more demand for foreign currency to import goods for Christmas and the Lunar New Year."

The dong slid 0.8 percent, the most since Aug. 8, to 20,928 per dollar as of 3:25 p.m. in Hanoi, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That was the weakest level since April 22. The currency is allowed to trade up to 1 percent on either side of the central bank's fixing.

Consumer prices rose 22.4 percent in September from a year earlier after having increased 23 percent in August, the statistics office said last month. Still, Vietnam's inflation rate remains the fastest in a basket of 17 Asian economies tracked by Bloomberg.

"Inflation is still high and that also hurts investor confidence in the dong," Thang said.

The yield on the government's five-year bonds was little changed at 12.41 percent, according to a daily fixing price from banks compiled by Bloomberg.

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