The country’s forex reserves increased by USD 989.5 million to an all-time high of USD 367.76 billion on the back of a healthy increase in core currency assets, the Reserve Bank said on Friday.
The total reserves had declined marginally by USD 392.6 million to USD 366.77 billion in the previous reporting week. The reserves had touched an all-time high of USD 367.16 billion previously.
Foreign currency assets (FCAs), a major component of the overall reserves, swelled by USD 952.2 million to USD 342.23 billion for the week ended September 2, RBI said on Friday.
FCAs, expressed in dollar terms, include the effect of appreciation/depreciation of non-US currencies such as euro, pound and yen held in the reserves. Gold reserves rose USD 58.1 million to USD 21.64 billion at the end of the reporting week, it said.
The country’s special drawing rights with IMF fell USD 8 million to USD 1.48 billion while the reserve position in IMF was down by USD 12.8 million to USD 2.39 billion, RBI said.
Some currency traders are concerned that the yuan will weaken again after the Group of 20 summit being held in Hangzhou on Sunday and Monday, based on the view that China is keeping its currency stable only until after it hosts the meeting.
The yuan had started to slide around this spring, reaching the weakest level against the greenback in almost six years in July. But it swung upward this summer, ending the downtrend.
Chinese monetary authorities on Aug. 29 set a stronger reference rate for the yuan against the dollar than market expectations.
“Clearly, the intention is to show that the currency is stable by preventing the yuan from weakening until the G-20,” said an analyst at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.
An excessive weakening of the yuan could deal a heavy blow to the global economy just like in August 2015. China surely does not want to draw criticism about its foreign exchange policy at a meeting held on its soil. As the host of G-20 summit, it hopes to show that it is cooperating with other nations to stabilize the currency market, even though it would prefer a weaker yuan since that helps exports.
In the year since China’s surprise devaluation of its currency, the yuan’s troubles going global have become all too apparent.
With the yuan continuing to lose strength as the Chinese economy slows, Chinese authorities have become reluctant to further expose the currency to market forces — a step necessary to achieve true reserve currency status.
Last month, the People’s Bank of China gathered local bank executives here for a meeting to inform them of de facto regulations on transactions that could facilitate capital flight. Officials from the central bank reiterated administrative guidance on a prior reporting requirement for large foreign-currency purchases or outbound fund transfers by corporations.
This guidance would not be put in writing, but banks were expected to comply, the officials said, according to people familiar with what transpired at the meeting. Banks were also instructed not to sell foreign currency to companies not registered in Shanghai.
In its 2016 report on internationalizing the yuan, released Wednesday, the PBOC hails rising cross-border transactions and the currency’s progress toward global status. The Chinese leadership, under President Xi Jinping, has set a goal of having “a convertible, freely usable currency” by 2020.
But in a seeming contradiction to this aim, the central bank early this year introduced nationwide restrictions meant to block capital outflows, and has since tightened them. The yuan has been hit with bursts of activity that appear the work of short-sellers. Clearly afraid of letting the currency weaken or allowing capital outflows, the PBOC has put a halt to the liberalization on which the drive for a global yuan depends.
In the week ended March 18, the country’s reserves had increased by USD 2.539 billion to USD 355.947 billion, a record high.
The decline in forex reserves was on account of fall in foreign currency assets (FCAs), a major component of overall reserves.
FCAs dropped by USD 358.1 million to USD 332.146 billion in the reporting week, RBI said in a release today.
FCAs, expressed in dollar terms, include the effect of appreciation and depreciation of non-US currencies, such as the euro, pound and the yen, held in the reserves.
Gold reserves remained unchanged at USD 19.325 billion in the week.
India’s special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) dipped by USD 10.7 million to USD 1.488 billion, while the country’s reserve position with the Fund was down by USD 18.7 million to USD 2.599 billion, RBI said.
Foreign exchange reserves as on February 26 fell by $3.57 billion from a week ago to $346.788 billion, according to data from the Reserve Bank of India.
This is the biggest weekly decline in reserves since August 2014 when it had fallen by $3.79 billion, Bloomberg data showed.
It is noteworthy that in days prior to the Budget, the rupee was close to its all-time lows, led by selloff by foreign investors, and market participants had indicated the RBI was intervening to keep the currency from falling further.
Foreign currency assets (FCAs), which form a key component of the reserves, fell by $3.55 billion from the previous week to $325.02 billion.
FCAs are maintained in major currencies such as dollar, euro, pound sterling, Japanese yen, etc. Foreign exchange reserves are, however, denominated and expressed in US dollar only.
China’s foreign exchange reserves, the world’s largest, fell by $99.5 billion in January, the central bank said in a statement on Sunday.
Foreign reserves fell to $3.23 trillion at the of January, the lowest level since May 2012.
The figure was higher than a Reuters poll forecast of $3.20 trillion.
China’s gold reserves rose to $63.57 billion at the end of January, from $60.19 billion at the end of 2015, the People’s Bank of China said on its website.
Gold volume stood at 57.18 million fine troy ounces at the end of January, up from 56.66 million fine troy ounces in December.
China’s International Monetary Fund (IMF) reserve position was at $3.76 billion at the end of January, down from $4.55 billion in the previous month. The bank held $10.27 billion of IMF Special Drawing Rights at the end of last month, compared with $10.28 billion at the end of 2015.
After rising for two consecutive weeks, country’s foreign exchange reserves fell by $1.4 billion to $351.106 billion in the week to December 18 on account of fall in foreign currency assets (FCAs), according to an RBI data. In the previous week, reserves had increased by $407.9 million to $352.51 billion.
FCAs, a major component of overall reserves, declined by $1.368 billion to $328.27 billion in the reported period, RBI said in a release here on Friday.
FCAs, expressed in dollar terms, include the effect of appreciation and depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and the yen, held in the reserves. The gold reserves remained unchanged at $17.54 billion.
India’s special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund fell by $24.3 million to $3.997 billion in the week, while country’s reserve position with the Fund decreased by $7.8 million to $1.295 billion, the apex bank said.
China’s yuan slipped to 6.4520 to the dollar in late morning trade on Friday, its lowest level in nearly four and 1/2 years, raising questions over how far Beijing will let the currency weaken.
At that level, the yuan had depreciated 0.2 percent for the day and nearly 4 percent this year.
The yuan was also on track a loss of 0.8 percent this week, which would be the biggest weekly drop since the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) on Aug. 11 surprised global markets with a nearly 2 percent devaluation.
“The government typically has internal targets for the yuan, though we’re not certain of the ranges,” said a senior trader at a Chinese commercial bank in Shanghai.
“But the market generally agrees that 6.50 may be the upper limit the central bank is willing to permit this year,” he said.
The falling yuan was one factor hurting Chinese stock markets early Friday.
“If the yuan continues to depreciate, that’s negative to stocks as well, because it means investors are not confident about China’s economic restructuring,” said Linus Yip, chief strategist at First Shanghai Securities.
NO PANIC THIS TIME
China’s renminbi has won inclusion in a an exclusive basket of currencies used by the International Monetary Fund in a move that amounts to official blessing of the yuan as a reserve currency.
The renminbi will now be the third-largest currency in the IMF’s ‘special drawing rights”, trailing the dollar and the euro but with a bigger weighting than the pound and the yen.
Economists give their reaction to the IMF’s decision.
Eswar Prasad, a former senior official for the IMF in China, described it as a “big step for China and a significant one for the international monetary system,” offering reward for the efforts Beijing has made to open up its financial markets.
However, the ex-IMF official also played down the prospect of the renminbi ousting the dollar as the world’s major reserve currency. That’s impossible, he argues:
Unless economic reforms are accompanied by broader legal, political, and institutional reforms that are necessary to inspire the trust of foreign investors. China’s government has made it abundantly clear that such reforms are not on the cards.
Andrew Malcolm, the Asia head of the capital markets team at law firm Linklaters, says its importance is symbolic:
The symbolic importance cannot be overlooked as it sends a strong signal about China’s importance in the global financial markets.