SINGAPORE -- Asian currencies dropped Monday against a broadly firmer dollar as regional stocks slid amid concerns about the global economy, with the South Korean won leading the declines and hitting a four-year low.
The won tumbled as far as 1,123.6 per dollar, down 3.0 percent from Friday's domestic close of 1,089.0, after local shares slumped to 17-month lows and the country's August exports missed market expectations.
The won, the worst performing currency in the region, has lost 16 percent versus the dollar so far this year.
The Singapore dollar fell as far as 1.4247 per US dollar, down almost 0.8 percent from late Asian trade Friday.
A trader in Singapore said the ongoing political turmoil in Thailand and Malaysia fuelled buying of the US dollar against the Singapore dollar and other Asian currencies.
"We see massive (US dollar) buying by them with the market expecting the central banks to step in to prevent any drastic fall in their currencies," said the trader.
The Thai baht fell as far as 34.31 per dollar, down a third of a percent from late Asian trade on Friday but the loss was capped by suspected central bank intervention.
"The political situation is still not cleared yet and sentiment towards the dollar is still firm," said a trader in Bangkok.
Thousands of protesters have been occupying Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's official compound since Aug. 26, vowing to remain until he and his government fall, but Samak has repeatedly said he will not bow to the pressures.
Elsewhere, the Philippine peso lost 0.8 percent to P46.30 per dollar in morning trade, its weakest level in almost a year.
The Chinese yuan bucked the region's weakness, briefly hitting 6.8205 per dollar, its strongest level since July 25.
Asian stocks slid amid concerns about the impact of weaker global demand on the region's economies.
The dollar rose against a basket of major currencies and jumped to its highest level in more than two years versus sterling after comments by Britain's finance minister highlighted the UK economy's weakness.
There seems no end in sight for the weakness in Asian currencies as concerns of slower economic growth overtake fears of inflation -- a key factor that has weighed on regional units in recent months amid global credit woes, analysts say.
"Growth risks and pro-active or expansionary fiscal policies will likely stay thematic in the near term," said Christy Tan, currency strategist at Bank of America.
"With inflation also showing signs of peaking, Asian central banks may not strongly defend the local currencies amid a firm dollar environment," she added.
Central banks in South Korea, Thailand, India and the Philippines and Indonesia have in recent months sold dollars on the market to try to prop up their ailing currencies.
Malaysia's markets are closed for a public holiday.