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Ringgit Slump Worst Since 1997 Economic Crash

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Malaysia’s ringgit was set on Monday to suffer its biggest two-day slide since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis as tumbling oil prices threatened to undermine the oil exporter’s economy.

The ringgit fell 2.4% to 3.4300 per dollar as of 0653 GMT (2.53pm Malaysian time) from Thursday’s close of 3.3465, according to Thomson Reuters data. Earlier on Monday, the Malaysian currency slipped as far as 3.4375, its weakest since February 2010.

That would be the largest two-day depreciation since July 1998, the data showed. In 1998, Malaysia fixed the ringgit at 3.8000 and abandoned the peg in July 2005.

Kuala Lumpur stocks lost nearly 3% after Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), Malaysia’s state oil company, said on Friday it plans to cut capital expenditure next year by 15-20%.

“It just adds to the negatives,” said Jonathan Cavenagh, senior FX strategist with Westpac in Singapore.

“I suspect until oil stabilises, the ringgit is at risk of continuing to fall.”

The ringgit may weaken to 3.4500 and the next target would be 3.4700-3.500, Cavenagh said.

Oil prices hit five-year lows, unable to find a bottom despite their biggest fall in 2 1/2 years last week as Opec held back from cutting output in the face of a supply glut. – Reuters

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