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[SHANGHAI] China's yuan firmed against the US dollar on Friday after the central bank fixed a stronger midpoint, while easing liquidity pressure in the money market had minimal impact, traders said.
China's central bank injected fresh funds through a medium-term lending facility on Friday while keeping a tight rein on short-term funding in what appeared to be a further effort to dampen speculative investment while keeping the economy adequately funded.
The People's Bank of China set the midpoint rate at 6.8948 per US dollar prior to market open, firmer than the previous fix 6.9051.
The spot market opened at 6.9006 per US dollar and was changing hands at 6.9012 at midday, 13 pips stronger than the previous late session close but 0.09 per cent weaker than the midpoint.
For the week, the yuan is on course to finish flat on the US unit.
There was some corporate dollar demand on Friday, traders said, but they noted that the thirst for the greenback was eclipsed by the higher mid-point.
"The yuan was still trading range-bound," said a trader at a foreign bank in Shanghai.
Some institutions took advantage of tiny price swings to make intraday trades for quick profits, which pushed up daily trading volume to US$14.45 billion as of midday.
Beijing is scheduled to hold the Belt and Road Forum on May 14-15, and traders expect the foreign exchange market to remain stable in coming days as authorities usually try to avoid any volatility ahead of and during major political and economic events.
The Chinese yuan faced some downward pressure earlier in the week when the yuan midpoint was fixed at its lowest for several weeks amid a broadly stronger US dollar.
The yuan's downside was contained on those days as major state-owned banks sold US dollars in the onshore market, though none of that activity was evident on Friday. Traders said the dollar sales were done to meet corporate demand.
The Thomson Reuters/HKEX Global CNH index, which tracks the offshore yuan against a basket of currencies on a daily basis, stood at 94.16, firmer than the previous day's 94.11.
The global US dollar index fell to 99.579 from the previous close of 99.623.
The offshore yuan was trading 0.01 per cent softer than the onshore spot at 6.9022 per US dollar.
Offshore one-year non-deliverable forwards contracts (NDFs), considered the best available proxy for forward-looking market expectations of the yuan's value, traded at 7.097, 2.85 per cent weaker than the midpoint.
One-year NDFs are settled against the midpoint, not the spot rate.