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Forex savings drop by 5.9% in November
By Chuan Yu (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-15 23:09

Individual savings in foreign currency continued to shrink last month, extending a trend analysts say is largely fuelled by expectations for a revaluation of the renminbi.

Forex savings deposits by Chinese residents dropped by 5.9 per cent on a year-on-year basis to US$81 billion at the end of November, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said yesterday.

Corporate forex deposits totalled US$58.9 billion, up 9.5 per cent from a year earlier, it said.

The bank did not disclose new forex deposits for December, but said the figure was US$3.2 billion less than the previous month.

The growth of forex savings, which was typically fast in recent years as forex assets owned by Chinese depositors expanded, started to slow down early last year and dipped to negative territory near year-end.

Analysts say the key reason was unabated expectations that the renminbi will appreciate in the near term under international pressure, although the Chinese Government has been insisting it will not resort to a simple revaluation of the currency but improve the flexibility of its exchange rate regime.

Such expectations, coupled with China's higher interest rates relative to the international market, have led many businesses and individuals to increase their renminbi assets and scale back forex-denominated assets.

Forex loans totalled US$135.5 billion at the end of last month, up 12.7 per cent on a year-on-year basis, continuing on an upward curve.

But signs of a slowdown in the growth of forex lending also emerged. Outstanding short-term lending rose by 18.4 per cent to US$48.8 billion at the end of last month, which compares to the 22.3 per cent surge recorded one month earlier.

New forex lending in the first 11 months of this year stood at US$16.7 billion, down 41 per cent from last year, the bank said.

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