RMB round-up: ECB boosts renminbi reserves, IMF adjusts China GDP forecast, Singapore backs OBOR
The European Central Bank switches €500m-equivalent of dollar for renminbi in its FX reserves, the International Monetary Fund adjusts China’s GDP growth forecast while recommending a more transparent monetary policy, and Singapore does a policy U-turn to support One Belt One Road (OBOR).
The Chinese Ministry of Finance is planning to issue Rmb14bn ($2.06bn) of offshore renminbi treasury bonds in 2017, alongside its first dollar bond in over a decade. The first round of the CNH auction will take place on June 22, according to the Hong Kong Monterey Authority (HKMA).
China will not let the renminbi fall further ahead of the country’s political transition in autumn, the head of Asia FX and rates strategy at Barclays told a conference organised by the Asia Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association (Asifma) on Wednesday.
People’s Bank of China's renminbi fix against the dollar was set at 6.7995 on Friday morning, 143bp weaker from Thursday. In the spot market, the CNY was trading at 6.8137 as of 2.21pm, with the CNH at 6.8217, down 0.09% and 0.22% from their previous close, respectively, according to Bloomberg data.
The dollar index was trading at 97.495 as of 2.11pm, down 0.06% from the previous close, according to Bloomberg. The Thomson Reuters CNY reference index closed at 94.25 on Friday, up 0.2% from its last close.
The ECB has converted €500m worth of dollar reserves into renminbi, according to a June 13 statement. The central bank attributed the change to IMF’s decision to include the renminbi in the SDR basket and China’s role as one of the eurozone’s biggest trading partners. Nevertheless, the dollar portfolio is the largest in its FX reserves after the change, said the ECB.
Ken Cheung, Asian FX strategist at Mizuho Bank, reckons that the ECB’s bullishness on the renminbi could trigger similar moves by other central banks.
“The timing of the purchase of renminbi assets also indicates that the ECB might be holding a less bearish view on the renminbi outlook,” wrote Cheung in a June 14 memo. “With receding renminbi depreciation expectation and higher Chinese Government Bond yields in 2017, we [foresee] more reserve asset diversification flow to renminbi assets.”
The government of the Philippines is exploring the possibility of issuing Panda bonds, according to a local media report on Tuesday.
“We’re still monitoring what’s going on in the Panda market because, if ever, it would be our maiden foray into the Panda market, so we still have to understand the process and the approvals required,” said Rosalia V de Leon, the country’s national treasurer.
The remarks came after the country’s financial secretary suggested in April that the government could issue $200m worth of Panda bonds by Q3 or Q4.
However, the IMF also believes that there are improvements to be made in China’s monetary policy.
“Capital flow measures should be applied transparently and consistently,” said David Lipton, deputy managing director of the IMF. “Further capital account liberalisation should be carefully sequenced with the necessary supporting reforms, including an effective monetary policy framework, sound financial system, and exchange rate flexibility.”
China Development Bank believes the sovereign credit rating downgrade by Moody’s in May has done little damage to Chinese companies raising funds overseas, according to a June 12 media report. CDB also insisted that Moody’s has overlooked China’s efforts to decrease debt risk in the economy, with its campaign to deleverage and crack down on non-performing loans in the banking sector.
China and Singapore have agreed to accelerate talks for regional economic integration in Asia, according to a Chinese media report.
Speaking on Monday, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi told his Singaporean counterpart that the city state should make use of its role as a renminbi clearing centre, and agreed to establish a platform with Singapore for financial co-operations on OBOR projects. The meeting came after Singapore reversed its policy stance and expressed support for OBOR.
The co-CEO of China Europe International Exchange (CEINEX), a joint venture between China and Germany, has said that Belt and Road will help China and Europe to further open up their respective capital markets, and that the exchange will play a key role in this development.
“CEINEX is an integral part of the financial connectivity of the Belt and Road Initiative,” Chen Han told a conference hosted by Bloomberg and CEINEX in Frankfurt on June 12. “Market participants from the financial industry as well as the real economy get the opportunity [with CEINEX] to finance and participate in these infrastructure projects.”
Shanghai Stock Exchange has signed an agreement with Astana International Financial Center Authority of Kazakhstan (AIFC Authority) to hold 25.1% of shares in the Astana International Exchange. The SSE plans to shape the Kazakhstan-based exchange into a renminbi trading centre in Central Asia and a financial platform for Belt and Road projects, according to a statement on SSE’s website.