Dirham surges to 17-year high

DUBAI — The UAE dirham surged to a 17-year high, leading a rally in regional currencies as investors piled pressure on Gulf Arab dollar pegs, encouraged by a report that a revaluation could come early next week.

By (Reuters)

Published: Thu 29 Nov 2007, 8:26 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:23 PM

Kuwait, the only Gulf Arab oil producer that tracks a currency basket, allowed two dinar depreciations in one day yesterday, the first time it has done so since the central bank dropped the dollar peg on May 20. The bank usually sets the day's reference rate at 0500GMT.

The Saudi Arabian riyal hit a 21-year high and the Qatar riyal a five-year high on speculation that other central banks would follow Kuwait's lead and unshackle their currencies from the tumbling dollar to contain inflation.

Currencies in the world's biggest oil exporting region have been rallying since UAE Central Bank Governor Sultan Nasser Al Suweidi called two weeks ago for Gulf central banks to switch from fixed pegs to a currency basket including the euro.

Arabian Business magazine said a UAE revaluation of 3-5 per cent could come as early as the National Day holidays on Sunday and Monday. The Muslim holidays of Eid Al Adha, which begin around December 20, would be another option for a move, the magazine reported, citing sources close to the central bank.

"The plan is to make an announcement when the banks are closed — National Day is an option, and if not National Day then the Eid holidays later in December," one of the sources said, according to the Web site of Arabian Business.

The report's author told Reuters the source was not at the central bank.

A National Day revaluation is unlikely because it would coincide with a summit of Gulf Rulers in Qatar on December 3 and 4, analysts said.

"It's not the UAE's style to shock the markets," said Mushtaq Khan, economist at Citigroup Global Markets.

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