Business / Markets

Yuan weakening is not devaluation

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-08-12 09:14

BEIJING - Allowing the Chinese yuan to weaken sharply against the US dollar does not signify the beginning of a downward trend, a central bank economist said on Tuesday.

The yuan central parity rate announced by the China Foreign Exchange Trading System (CFETS) stood at 6.2298 against the greenback on Tuesday compared to 6.1162 on Monday, down nearly 2 percent, the lowest level since April, 2013.

The shift is a one-off technical correction and should not be interpreted as an indicator of future depreciation, said Ma Jun, chief economist at the research bureau of the People's Bank of China (PBOC).

The central parity rate is based on a weighted average of prices offered by market makers before the opening of the interbank market each trading day. The currency is allowed to trade on the spot market within 2 percent of the rate.

The PBOC said Tuesday's lower rate resolved accumulated differences between the central parity rate and the market rate, and was part of improvements to the central parity rate formation system to make it more market-based.

Ma said a long-standing gap between the central parity rate and the previous day's closing rate on the inter-bank market led to the lower rate on Tuesday.

He said China's economic fundamentals support a "basically stable" yuan exchange rate. A central parity rate closer to the market rate will provide a more stable environment for macro-economic development.

The economy has shown signs steadying and recovery, with infrastructure investment accelerating and property sales improving. Compared with some economies under strong pressure to depreciate their currencies, China is better-off, with a current account surplus, huge foreign exchange reserves, low inflation and sound fiscal conditions, he explained.

From Tuesday, daily central parity quotes reported to CFETS before the market opens will be based on the previous day's closing rate on the inter-bank market, supply and demand and price movements of other major currencies, according to the PBOC.

In July 2005, the central bank unpegged the yuan against the US dollar, allowing it to fluctuate against a basket of currencies.

Making formation of the central parity rate more market-based touches on the core of reform, compared with previous steps that mainly concerned how much the yuan can fluctuate, said Guan Tao, former head of the international payments department at the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

The yuan was at first allowed to vary by 0.3 percent from the central parity rate each trading day and the trading band gradually expanded to 2 percent in March last year. The market expects it to expand to 3 percent in the near future.

The latest reform actually increases China's flexibility and independence in foreign exchange control, as a rigid exchange rate system is open to speculative attacks, Guan told China Business News.

Two-way fluctuations will become normal for the yuan in future, he said.

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