New yuan index set against basket of currencies

China's introduction of the exchange rate is meant to discourage investors from exclusively tracking the yuan's changes against the US dollar.
China's introduction of the exchange rate is meant to discourage investors from exclusively tracking the yuan's changes against the US dollar.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • China has begun issuing a yuan exchange rate against a basket of currencies in a move to discourage investors from exclusively tracking the yuan's fluctuations against the US dollar.

The yuan has been weakening against the dollar in recent months, mainly pressured by market jitters about slowing growth in China and an expected interest rate rise in the United States.

The China Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS) announced late last Friday that it had launched a new trade-weighted yuan exchange rate index, which was at 102.93 on Nov 30, a rise of 2.93 per cent from the end of last year.

In that same period, the yuan has fallen 3 per cent against the dollar. The move is intended to "facilitate the market to observe the change of yuan-effective exchange rate from different perspectives", the CFETS, China's inter-bank foreign exchange market, said in a statement.

"It's more desirable to refer to both the bilateral yuan-US dollar exchange rate and exchange rate based on a basket of currencies," said a commentary on the CFETS website, which was also published on the central bank's website.

Chinese officials have urged investors to gauge the yuan's changes against a basket of currencies, rather than just the dollar, in a bid to ease market concerns about the yuan's weakness.

Some analysts believe the move signalled the central bank's intention to gradually shift towards a basket system for the yuan, but others disagreed. "It should not be regarded as a formal policy shift by the People's Bank of China (PBOC) to a specific exchange rate targeting regime that the Monetary Authority of Singapore uses, for example," analysts at HSBC said in a note.

Last Friday, the yuan fell to its weakest in 41/2 years and posted its longest weekly losing streak in a decade, after the PBOC set its daily guidance rate at its weakest level since August 2011.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 13, 2015, with the headline 'New yuan index set against basket of currencies'. Print Edition | Subscribe