China struggles to support CNY & avoid exporting disinflation

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By Ashraf Laidi, Chief Global Strategist at City Index

The People’s Bank of China is increasingly resisting traders’ weakening of the Chinese yuan, by announcing higher rate in its daily central reference rate. But as Chinese data continue to weaken across the board, FX traders have no choice but to bet against the yuan (pushing up the USD/CNY rate). 

The chart highlights the divergence between the PBOC’s falling reference rate, known as CNY fixing price as set by the China Foreign Exchange Trading System (red) and the spot rate in the interbank market, the fluctuations of which should not exceed +/- 2% of the average price.

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Aside from signs of China’s slowdown shown in retail sales and consumer credit, last night’s release of Nov PPI contracting by 2.7% — below zero for the 13th consecutive months — and the 1.4% CPI being the lowest in five years underscores the threat that China’s hard landing story is at its most credible status since misplaced warnings have begun in 2009.

The adjacent chart highlights China’s deteriorating capital account balance, which tumbled to a negative $601 million in Q2 as a result of surging capital outflows. We patiently await the release of capital account breakdown for Q3.

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