Business / Markets

RMB rings out 2013 at new high

By Gao Changxin in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2014-01-02 08:09

The People's Bank of China guided the yuan to a new record high against the United States dollar on Tuesday, leaving the currency 3.06 percent higher for 2013.

RMB rings out 2013 at new high

Employees count money at a bank in Wuxi, Jiangsu province. The yuan's strength will grow in 2014, analysts said, as the US is in no hurry to tighten credit by driving up interest rates. Chen Wei /for China Daily

The daily reference rate was set 55 basis points higher at 6.0969 per dollar. It was the 41st record for the Chinese currency in 2013, a year of increased capital inflows seeking higher returns.

Markets in China were closed on Wednesday for the New Year holiday.

The yuan's strength will continue in 2014, analysts said, as the US is in no hurry to tighten credit by driving up interest rates.

Beijing kept its monetary policy tight in 2013, with the authorities seeking to deleverage the world's second-biggest economy, which has become less responsive to investment stimulus.

In the meantime, developed countries - especially the US - kept interest rates low to spur growth. Analysts said that disparity in policies helped attract funds into China, strengthening the yuan.

In November, China reported its widest trade surplus in almost five years. The surplus rose to $33.8 billion in November from $31.1 billion the previous month.

Exports jumped 12.7 percent, compared with October's 5.6 percent growth. Imports rose a more modest 5.3 percent.

Although December trade figure haven't yet been released, but Huatai Securities Co Ltd offered an estimate on Tuesday of a surplus of 31 billion yuan ($5.1 billion).

Speculative funds, or hot money, in the guise of normal trade contributed to the surplus in November, said Zhou Hao, an economist with Australia and New Zealand Bank Group Ltd.

He said that figures on industrial activity for the month didn't correspond with the reported jump in overseas shipments.

Economists expect the yuan to continue getting stronger in 2014, with the PBOC having few options to stop it. The central bank is in a tight spot at the moment, as there will be negative consequences whichever way it guides the currency.

A higher exchange rate helps keep domestic liquidity tight by blocking fund inflows, but it hurts exports.

A lower rate benefits exports, but it draws in more funds, which forces the central bank to release liquidity.

Tighter monetary policies in the US would curtail fund inflows to China and push down the yuan, but the US Federal Reserve Board seems in no hurry to lift US interest rates.

The Fed said on Dec 18 that it would trim the pace of its asset purchases - part of its quantitative easing policy - by $10 billion, to $75 billion a month.

But Reuters quoted the CME Group Inc's Fed Watch, which generates probabilities based on the price of Fed funds futures traded at the Chicago Board of Trade, as saying after the Fed announcement on Dec 18 that the Fed will raise rates no earlier than September 2015, potting the chance of an increase in that month at about 58 percent.


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