Yuan Near Six-Year Low as Sliding Imports Add to Economy Concern

Updated on
  • Negative surprises in data may push yuan beyond 6.7: CBA
  • Second-quarter GDP growth forecast to be slowest since 2009

China’s yuan traded near the weakest level in almost six years as a plunge in imports signaled declining demand in an economy growing at the slowest quarterly pace since 2009.

QuickTake The People’s Currency

The nation’s inbound shipments shrank more than estimated in June and exports dropped for a third month, according to data released Wednesday, while figures due Friday are projected to show a 6.6 percent expansion in April-June gross domestic product. Any disappointments could prompt analysts to bring forward forecasts for interest-rate cuts, Tim Condon, head of Asian research at ING Groep NV, wrote in a note Thursday.

The yuan was little changed at 6.6878 a dollar as of 4:48 p.m. in Shanghai, according to prices from the China Foreign Exchange Trade System. That’s about 0.2 percent away from a level it reached in November 2010. The currency traded in Hong Kong dropped 0.09 percent to 6.6962. A Bloomberg replica of the CFETS RMB Index tracked by the People’s Bank of China fell for the first time in three days to 94.4.

“All eyes are on China’s economic data for the second quarter -- if the numbers turn out to be weak, the yuan may depreciate beyond 6.7 per dollar,” said Andy Ji, a Singapore-based foreign-exchange strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. “After all data are released, the yuan will be driven by the dollar again. If the greenback continues to be weak, which is likely as the Federal Reserve won’t likely raise rates before September, the Chinese currency will remain stable or even be stronger than 6.7 for a while.”

The odds of the Fed raising rates in September have dropped to 14 percent, from 32 percent before Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. The U.S. central bank has been looking for an opportunity to boost interest rates as the labor market heals and inflation moves up, but events such as the Brexit referendum have stayed its hand.

The PBOC will likely cut its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 4.1 percent by the end of this year, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists. The nation’s GDP expanded 6.7 percent in the first quarter, the tardiest pace since the three months through March 2009.

The nation’s overseas shipments fell 4.8 percent in June from a year earlier in U.S. dollar terms and imports dropped 8.4 percent, compared with a forecast for a 6.2 percent decline.

— With assistance by Tian Chen

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