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China weakens yuan to eight-year low

Tuesday, Nov 15, 2016,14:50 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Shanghai | China today weakened the yuan’s fix against the dollar to a nearly eight-year low as the surging dollar put further pressure on the unit.

The central People’s Bank of China set the value of the yuan — also known as the renminbi — at 6.8495 to the greenback, down 0.30 per cent from Monday’s fixing, according to data from the Foreign Exchange Trade System.

The unit has reached a series of six-year lows in recent weeks in the face of a greenback rising on expectations of sharper US interest rate hikes, with President-elect Donald Trump pledging during his campaign to ramp up spending and cut taxes.

But Tuesday’s fix was the weakest since December 2008, and beyond the roughly 6.83 level at which Beijing virtually pegged the unit for nine months in 2009-10.
China only allows the yuan to rise or fall two percent on either side of the daily fix, one of the ways it maintains control over the currency.

During the presidential campaign Trump repeatedly accused China of keeping the yuan undervalued to boost exports and make imports from the US more costly, and has threatened to declare Beijing a currency manipulator once in office.

But analysts and officials say that Beijing is now intervening in the opposite direction, and trying to prop up the unit’s value against a strengthening greenback.
The US Treasury in October cleared China of keeping the yuan cheap for trade advantages, saying the currency could have fallen more had Beijing not acted.
“It’s a USD story so far — and possible intervention to see us back from the brink,” Michael Every, head of Asia-Pacific financial markets research at Rabo Bank, said in a written response to AFP.

Barclays forecasts that the onshore yuan will fall to 7.15 against the dollar by the end of the third quarter next year.

The bank’s Singapore-based head of Asia FX and rates strategy Mitul Kotech said the yuan was basically tracking moves by the dollar.

“We still awaiting what policies are going to be in terms of Trump’s policies towards (China) given what he said in the run-up to the election.

“But it’s not a cause of concern at this point in time.” The onshore yuan was quoted at 6.8586 around midday trading, 0.26 per cent weaker than Monday’s close of 6.8409, according to the Foreign Exchange Trade System.

In August last year, Beijing suddenly devalued the yuan, causing investors to dump the unit in volumes not seen since 1994 and sparking an outflow of capital from China.

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