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Markets

Yuan tries to steady from slide as traders assess Beijing's response to virus

It opened at 7.0200 per dollar and was changing hands at 7.0032 at midday, 188 pips firmer than the previous late s
04 Feb 2020
  • It opened at 7.0200 per dollar and was changing hands at 7.0032 at midday, 188 pips firmer than the previous late session close.
  • The liquidity injections and expectations for further monetary easing have dragged the swap points lower.
  • The global dollar index rose to 97.826 at midday from the previous close of 97.8.

SHANGHAI: China's yuan managed to staunch further losses on Tuesday after skidding to a near two-month low in the previous session, with traders assessing Beijing's efforts to stabilise confidence in markets battered by the coronavirus epidemic in the country.

China's central bank has flooded the economy with cash while trimming some key lending rates, but analysts suspect more will have to be done to offset the economic fallout from the virus as the death toll rose to 425.

Mainland stocks also steadied somewhat in choppy trade after a harrowing session on Monday when some $400 billion in market value was wiped out from Shanghai's benchmark index.

Prior to market opening, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) set the midpoint rate at 6.9779 per dollar, 530 pips or 0.76% softer than the previous fix of 6.9249, and the weakest since Dec. 30, 2019.

It also marked the biggest one-day weakening in percentage terms since July 20, 2018, reflecting the pressure on the currency from the growing economic worries.

In the spot market, trading steadied on the day after the onshore spot yuan had eased to a low of 7.0268 per dollar on Monday, breaching the key 7 mark and booking its worst day since early August.

It opened at 7.0200 per dollar and was changing hands at 7.0032 at midday, 188 pips firmer than the previous late session close.

"The yuan's movements in the near term should depend on the development of the virus epidemic," a trader at a Chinese bank in Shanghai said.

A second trader at a Chinese bank said the yuan was likely to consolidate around the 7 per dollar level in coming days as investors gauge the epidemic's impact on the economy.

"For now, expect the pace of ascent in USD/CNH and USD/CNY to slow, with limited traction expected above 7.0000," Terence Wu, strategist at OCBC Bank in Singapore said in a note.

"Do not rule out some near-term consolidation. Overall, expect USD-Asia to track the RMB complex in the interim," he added.

Analysts say more support measures from Beijing would be needed to counter the widening economic and financial fallout from the virus.

"With the economy under immense pressure due to the pandemic, more easing measures are now deemed necessary," Societe Generale said in a note. They expect two more policy rate cuts and one reduction in bank's reserve requirement ratio in the first half of this year.

The liquidity injections and expectations for further monetary easing have dragged the swap points lower.

One year dollar/yuan swap points fell to 500, the lowest level since Jan.9.

The global dollar index rose to 97.826 at midday from the previous close of 97.8.

The offshore yuan was trading at 7.0022 per dollar as of midday, firmer than the previous close of 7.0107.