Chinese Banks Show Largest Net Currency Purchases Since January

China’s central bank and financial institutions bought a net 134.6 billion yuan ($21.7 billion) of foreign currency in December, the largest amount in 11 months.

Yuan positions accumulated from foreign-exchange purchases increased to 25.9 trillion yuan last month from November, data published by the People’s Bank of China showed yesterday. That compares with net sales of 73.6 billion yuan in November and 100.3 billion yuan in December 2011.

The yuan failed to appreciate against the dollar in December for the first time in five months. The central bank said in August that capital flows would be “basically balanced” in the second half of 2012 and the size of any net inflows or outflows would be small.

Data from the PBOC yesterday also showed that China’s foreign-exchange reserves, the world’s largest, increased in each month during the fourth quarter, rising to a record $3.32 trillion in December. That completes a five-month gain, the longest streak since August 2011.

— With assistance by Scott Lanman

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