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No heavy intervention to support SGD: MAS

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Tuesday that certain reports that had suggested it had been intervening heavily to support Singapore's currency were incorrect.

THE Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Tuesday that certain reports that had suggested it had been intervening heavily to support Singapore's currency were incorrect.

"These reports had erroneously cited the fall in Singapore's official foreign reserves (OFR) and MAS' FX swaps since mid-2014 as an indication of heavy intervention by MAS to support the Singapore Dollar Nominal Effective Exchange Rate (S$NEER)," it said in a statement.

The decline in the US dollar (USD) value of the OFR in the last nine months till end-March 2015 was due to currency translation effects arising from the broad-based appreciation of the USD against the other major currencies in the OFR, it said.

The stock of FX swaps declined as MAS has relied more on MAS bills in its money market operations, and most of the proceeds from the maturing swaps were transferred to the Government for management by GIC over a longer investment horizon, it said.

"This is hence a transfer of assets, not a reduction in Singapore's overall reserves," MAS said.

Singapore's OFR declined by US$29 billion from June 2014 to US$249 billion as at end-March 2015. This came after an increase of US$105 billion over the preceding five years.

"Contrary to some reports, the recent decline was due to currency translation effects, rather than MAS' intervention operations," it said.

It reflected the sharp appreciation of the USD against the other major foreign currencies in the OFR.

"In a well-diversified portfolio, currency translation effects are inevitable, but not persistent or pronounced over the longer term."

MAS invests the OFR in a portfolio that is well-diversified by assets and currencies. About three-quarters of the OFR are denominated in the major G-4 currencies, ie, USD, euro, British pound and Japanese yen, with no single currency allocation making up more than one-third of the composition.

On FX swaps, MAS said it is one of the money market instruments that MAS uses to manage liquidity in the banking system.

"A substantial amount of FX swaps was accumulated by MAS during 2009-2011 when there were strong capital inflows to Singapore amid exceptional monetary easing in the major advanced economies," it said.

Over the period June 2014 to March 2015, the stock of FX swaps fell by US$24 billion to US$34 billion. MAS has allowed its FX swaps to mature as it increased its reliance on MAS bills as a money market instrument.

"Most of the proceeds from the maturing FX swaps were in excess of what MAS needed in the OFR to maintain confidence in the Singapore dollar, and hence were transferred to the Government for management by GIC over a longer investment horizon."