KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 — The ringgit extended its losses against the US dollar today on weaker regional sentiment as other emerging currencies also continued to be weighed down by a possible US interest rate hike in December, a dealer said.

At 6pm, the local unit was traded at 4.3900/3970 against the greenback from 4.3450/3550 yesterday.

The ringgit fell 1.1 per cent to 4.3900 to the dollar, its weakest since January 20, 2016.

Sunway University Business School Professor of Economics Dr Yeah Kim Leng said the uncertainty over whether the US Federal Reserve (Fed) would raise its interest rate had dragged down most regional currencies including the ringgit.

“Investors are eyeing closely the development in the US interest rate and markets are very certain that the Fed would increase it by 25 basis points next month which would impact our bond market,” he told Bernama.

In a media brieding yesterday, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said it was consistently taking measures to stem volatility in the foreign exchange market and it reiterated that the onshore rate of the currency is the right reference price.

BNM assistant governor Adnan Zaylani Mohamad Zahid also assured that Malaysia was in a far better position to defend against speculation on the ringgit, having built up its coffers since the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis.

Although foreigners held more than half of the outstanding Malaysian Government Securities, some 60 to 70 per cent consisted of long-term investors such as pension funds and other central banks, he said.

The local unit was traded lower against other major currencies.

It went down against the Singapore dollar to 3.0988/0063 from 3.0668/0745 yesterday, and declined against the British pound to 5.4717/4857 from 5.4117/4259.

The ringgit fell against the yen to 4.0216/0314 from 3.9673/9768 and decreased against the euro to 4.7070/7158 from 4.6552/6668. — Bernama