HSBCÆs forecasts offer mixed hope

HSBC''s annual Asian forecasting report advises long positions in the Singapore dollar and Thai baht, but sees growth falling off in all countries except China and India.

HSBC has put out its 2001 currency forecasts. In the Philippines it is forecasting the peso at Ps54 ($1.02) by year end and GDP growth of 1%. It also estimates that the budget deficit finished 2000 at Ps120 billion ($2.27 billion), almost double the country’s original target of Ps62.5 billion.

In Malaysia it is forecasting 3.5% growth and saying the government’s finances will suffer from lower oil prices. It assumes the ringgit will remain pegged at M$3.80.

In Korea it is forecasting 3.7% growth and a year end won of W1250. It sees better growth of 5.6% for India and a rupee that slips to Rs49.60. It is bullish thanks to falling oil prices – since oil imports make up 25% of India’s total imports.

China will have the best performance in 2001 according to HSBC, with growth of 7.5% and a static currency. It does, however, forecast China’s export growth to fall from 35% to 7%. Hong Kong is predicted to have a poorer year with growth collapsing to 3.4%.

It says the $140 billion of external debt held by Indonesia will put pressure on the Indonesian rupiah, which will end the year at Rp10,000, and that growth will fall to 2.5%.

Singapore will see growth of 4.8%, but the currency will strengthen slightly versus the US dollar. Taiwan is predicted to have 4% growth and a slightly weaker currency. It advocates a long position on the Thai baht which it predicts will end the year at Bt40. It reckons on only 2.5% growth.

 If any other banks would like their currency and GDP forecasts published, please email them to [email protected].

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