The chief executive of Hong Kong's de facto central bank hinted yesterday that the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is in no hurry to re-enter the foreign exchange market to bring the local currency back towards its parity rate to the US dollar. In fact, while acknowledging that there are likely to be more criticisms about the 'asymmetrical manner' in which the HKMA operates Hong Kong's currency board, Joseph Yam Chi-kwong seemed quite relaxed about the significant strengthening in the local currency. 'There is no harm to have a bit of constructive ambiguity, if only for the purpose of making those shorting the Hong Kong dollar realise that this is not so much of a one-side bet,' Mr Yam said. 'We [the HKMA] are in the business of ensuring exchange rate stability, not bailing out currency speculators.' The Hong Kong dollar jumped to a six-year high of $7.705 against the US dollar on September 22 after an initial large trade triggered a rapid unwinding of short Hong Kong dollar positions. The HKMA did step in once and bought $466 million worth of US dollars to stem the move and bring the local currency back towards the $7.80 peg level. Since then the authority has remained absent, however, allowing the Hong Kong dollar to remain strong. It was quoted at $7.7211 late in Asian trading yesterday, compared with $7.7355 a day earlier. The openness of the market made it convenient to take short positions against the Hong Kong dollar for speculative or hedging purposes and these have, according to Mr Yam, been substantial. But these holders of short positions on the local currency had been 'oblivious of the underlying improvements in the economy' in particular its competitiveness and the ability to earn foreign exchange, Mr Yam said.