Yuan slides 1.3 per cent in first month as IMF reserve currency

Strong dollar amid expectations of a Fed rate hike in December, and the ECB’s decision to maintain loose monetary policies seen as main factors

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 November, 2016, 11:15am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 November, 2016, 7:33pm

The yuan ended its first month as a member of the International Monetary Fund’s elite basket of reserve currencies with further losses.

The Chinese currency, which was inducted into the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) on October 1,

fell 0.06 per cent, or 38 basis points, to 6.7816 per US dollar as of 6pm on Tuesday in Hong Kong. In onshore trading the yuan was at 6.7725, weaker by 0.03 per cent.

Today’s decline comes after the currency weakened by about 1.3 per cent, or 863 basis point, from September 30th to October 31st.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) fixed the yuan’s mid-point rate at 6.7734 against the US dollar today, weaker by 93 basis points from the previous fixing. The previous day, the PBOC had raised the yuan’s reference rate by 217 basis points to 6.7641.

“The market remains in dollar bid mode as the uptrend [for the US currency] remains intact,” said Stephen Innes, a senior currency trader at Oanda, in a note on Tuesday.

“US election risks have largely overshadowed growing negatives in the Chinese markets and concerns are mounting.”

After China’s week-long holiday at the beginning of October, the offshore yuan has gone through a sharp depreciation, breaking through the two critical psychological levels of 6.7 and 6.8 successively.

The decline has been largely attributed to external factors including a US dollar rising amid heightened expectations of an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve in December, and the decision by the European Central Bank to maintain its ultra loose monetary policies.

However, some positive signs have emerged during the period, pointing to increased internationalisation of the currency.

Total deposits of the yuan in Hong Kong rose by 1.9 per cent to 665.5 billion yuan in September compared to a month earlier, according to statistics released by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority on Monday.

“It’s the first increase after the deposits declined for three months in a row, which shows that the market’s confidence in the yuan is recovering with its inclusion into the SDR basket,” said Ying Jian, senior economist at Bank of China (Hong Kong).