The People’s Bank of China said the country does not benefit any more from increases in its foreign-currency holdings, adding to signs policy makers will rein in dollar purchases that limit the yuan’s appreciation.
“It’s no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves,” Yi Gang, a deputy governor at the central bank, said in a speech organized by China Economists 50 Forum at Tsinghua University yesterday. The monetary authority will “basically” end normal intervention in the currency market and broaden the yuan’s daily trading range, Governor Zhou Xiaochuan wrote in an article in a guidebook explaining reforms outlined last week following a Communist Party meeting. Neither Yi nor Zhou gave a timeframe for any changes.
Yi, who is also head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, said in the speech that the yuan’s appreciation benefits more people in China than it hurts.
His comments are “consistent with the plans to increase the renminbi’s flexibility so they become less interventionist,” Sacha Tihanyi, senior currency strategist at Scotiabank in Hong Kong, said by phone today. The central bank may widen the yuan’s trading band in “the coming few months,” he added.
The yuan has appreciated 2.3 percent against the greenback this year, the best-performance of 24 emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg. Non-deliverable 12-month forwards rose 0.2 percent this week and reached 6.1430 per dollar on Nov. 20, matching an all-time high recorded on Oct. 16. The currency was little changed at 6.0932 as of 10:33 a.m. in Shanghai today.
“It appears that many in the People’s Bank think the time is about right to scale back currency interventions,” Mark Williams, London-based chief Asia economist at Capital Economics Ltd., wrote in an e-mail yesterday. “But China has got itself into a situation where stopping intervention will be very hard to do” and comments such as Yi’s will spur speculative inflows, he added.
Less intervention and smaller gains in foreign-exchange reserves may damp China’s appetite for U.S. government debt. The nation is the largest foreign creditor to the U.S. and its holdings of Treasuries increased by $25.7 billion, or 2 percent, to $1.294 trillion in September, the biggest gain since February. U.S. government securities lost 2.6 percent this year, according to the Bloomberg U.S. Treasury Bond Index. (BUSY)