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The yuan is Asia’s weakest currency
[HONG KONG] The yuan fell after the People's Bank of China set the daily reference rate weaker than expected, while stocks rebounded following their biggest sell-off in eight months as Chinese trade data beat estimates.
The yuan slid as much as 0.47 per cent to 6.9215 per US dollar after the central bank weakened the fixing for a ninth session. The offshore rate also fell. The Hang Seng Index was up 1.8 per cent as of 3:07pm in Hong Kong, with Tencent Holdings heading for its biggest gain since 2015 after sliding for a record 10 days. Shanghai's benchmark reversed morning losses to close 0.9 per cent higher.
The fixing suggests "the PBOC isn't concerned about yuan depreciation pressures," as capital outflows are muted, said Tommy Xie, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp in Singapore. "Investors still prefer to buy dollars on the dip against the yuan, given the backdrop of the trade war, China's economic slowdown and monetary easing."
The yuan has fallen more than 9 per cent against the dollar over the past six months, ranking among the world's weakest currencies. Friday's reference rate of 6.9120 per dollar was weaker than the average estimate of 6.9051 in a survey of traders and analysts. The psychologically key level of 7 is in view, with brokerages including Bank of America Merrill Lynch saying they expect the currency to fall through that line in coming months.
As the US prepares to release its twice-a-year report on trading partners' currencies next week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been advised by staff that China isn't manipulating the yuan, Bloomberg reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. Mnuchin declined to comment on the report, saying the US wants to make sure the yuan isn't being used for competitive devaluation.
Trade tension doesn't appear to have dented demand at home and abroad. China's September exports in dollar terms rose 14.5 per cent from a year earlier, beating the 8.2 per cent forecast. Imports climbed 14.3 per cent, leaving a trade surplus of US$32 billion.
The Shanghai Composite Index, meanwhile, is among the world's worst performing equity gauge this year, down 21 per cent, as headwinds ranging from the trade war, an economic slowdown and weakening currency kept domestic investors on the sidelines. After tumbling the most since 2016 on Thursday, the benchmark fell as much as 1.8 per cent on Friday before reversing the loss. The Shenzhen Composite Index dropped 10 per cent this week.
Hong Kong fared better. The Hang Seng Index rose to 25,767.92 as companies from Tencent to Sunny Optical Technology Group Co rebounded from heavy losses. The benchmark is still down for the week though after plunging the most since Feb 6 on Thursday. Tencent advanced 6.6 per cent after tumbling 19 per cent over the previous 10 sessions. It's still down around 40 per cent from January. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index climbed 2 per cent.
Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd was the worst performer of the day on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index, plunging by a record 25 per cent after agreeing to give BMW AG control of their joint venture. A wide range of analysts cut their price targets and ratings on the company, saying it would diminish its exposure to future growth in the world's largest auto market.