China’s yuan tumbles to eight-year low as banks weaken forecasts

China’s yuan fell to 6.8703 against the greenback, the weakest since December 2008


A record $44.7 billion left China in September in yuan payments, while the nation’s foreign-exchange stockpile shrank the most since January last month.  Photo: Bloomberg
A record $44.7 billion left China in September in yuan payments, while the nation’s foreign-exchange stockpile shrank the most since January last month. Photo: Bloomberg

Beijing: The yuan ignored a declining dollar to drop to an eight-year low, with banks slashing their forecasts for China’s exchange rate amid concern an imminent Federal Reserve interest-rate increase will accelerate capital outflows.

The currency fell to 6.8703 against the greenback, the weakest since December 2008 and beyond a Bloomberg survey’s year-end median estimate of 6.8. A gauge of dollar strength dropped for a second day after posting the biggest four-day rally in seven years following Donald Trump’s surprise win in last week’s presidential election. The Republican has promised to label China a currency manipulator and slap tariffs on the nation’s exports.

Standard Chartered Plc Wednesday joined at least four other banks in lowering its forecasts for the yuan, predicting a year-end level of 6.9, compared with 6.75 earlier. The odds of Fed tightening this year have shot up to 94% amid speculation the US monetary authority will move to cap inflation as a Trump-led administration steps up spending. This would reduce the allure of emerging-market assets.

“The pressure for the yuan to decline could be stronger next year as Trump’s policies could lead to a dollar rally and amid concerns about China-U.S. trade relations,” said Harrison Hu, chief greater China economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in Singapore. “The People’s Bank of China can curb high volatility with stronger fixings and intervention, but it won’t do so unless outflows surge, as such measures could add great pressures to the foreign reserves.”

A record $44.7 billion left China in September in yuan payments, while the nation’s foreign-exchange stockpile shrank the most since January last month. Chinese officials have taken a series of steps to plug capital control loopholes, such as a potential plan to curb transactions that use the bitcoin digital currency to take funds out of the country. UnionPay Co. late last month limited mainlanders from using its cards to buy insurance in Hong Kong.

HSBC Holdings Plc, UBS Group AG and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. lowered their yuan forecasts on Tuesday, predicting that the currency will end this year at 6.9 per dollar, compared with earlier estimates of 6.8 for the first two lenders and 6.75 for the third. BMI Research, a unit of Fitch Group, downgraded its year-end forecast to 6.85 from 6.8, while Norddeutsche Landesbank said it has revised its view to 7 from 6.8.

The yuan fell 0.19% to 6.8694 per dollar as of 1:04pm in Shanghai, extending a five-day decline to 1.3%. The Chinese currency traded in Hong Kong’s offshore market weakened as much as 0.14% to a record-low 6.8825.

Chinese authorities may allow quicker currency depreciation before the Fed’s interest-rate decision in December, UBS head of China economic research Wang Tao wrote in a report Tuesday.

“It is unlikely that Chinese authorities will defend any particular level,” said Khoon Goh, Singapore-based head of Asia research at ANZ. “Uncertainty over whether Trump will label China a currency manipulator is weighing on the yuan.”

In the money markets, the PBOC injected a net 55 billion yuan ($8 billion) in open-market operations on Wednesday, adding funds for a fourth consecutive day, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The 10-year sovereign bond yield rose 1 basis point to 2.87%, according to National Interbank Funding Center prices. The overnight repurchase rate in Shanghai was little changed at 2.27%, while one-year interest-rate swaps rose four basis points to 2.92%. Bloomberg

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