China's yuan goes through 7 to the dollar to an 11-year low

Reuters SHANGHAI/HONG KONG | Updated on August 05, 2019 Published on August 05, 2019

Yuan slumps past 7 per dollar for first time in over decade as trade war between China and US escalates.   -  Reuters

Japanese yen surges to seven-month high as investors rush into safe havens

China let its yuan weaken below 7 yuan per dollar on Monday, an 11-year low, as the escalation in the US-China trade war shook currency markets.

Fearful of the impact on global growth, investors dumped export-oriented Asian currencies and rushed into safe havens, with the Japanese yen surging to a seven-month high.

Chinese authorities, who had been expected to defend the psychologically important level of 7 per dollar, allowed the currency break through the floor to its lowest in the onshore market since the 2008 global financial crisis.

In offshore markets, the yuan fell to its weakest since international trading of the Chinese currency began. The currency was headed for its biggest one-day drop in four years. It was last down 1.4 per cent at 7.0744 in offshore markets.

The fall came after Beijing vowed on Friday to fight back against US President Donald Trump's decision to impose 10 per cent tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese imports, ending a month-long trade truce.

“The fallout has been most evident in the Asia region,” MUFG analyst Derek Halpenny said. “We certainly expect to see general FX volatility increase in the coming days, with daily PBOC (People's Bank of China) CNY fixes an important focus each day.”

The currencies of other Asian economies closely linked with China's growth prospects also dropped. The Korean won fell 1.4 per cent against the dollar, on course for its biggest one-day loss since August 2016. The new Taiwan dollar fell more than 0.7 per cent.

The Australian dollar, often used as a proxy bet on China, shed as much as 0.5 per cent to $0.6748, a seven-month low.

Japan's yen, which investors buy in times of risk aversion, rose 0.7 per cent to its highest since a January flash crash. The yen was last up 0.7 per cent at 105.89, after hitting 105.78 earlier.

Japan's top currency diplomat, Yoshiki Takeuchi, warned that Tokyo was ready to intervene if yen gains threatened its export-reliant economy.

The US dollar edged lower against a basket of currencies, down 0.1 per cent at 98.032. Against the euro, the dollar slipped to $1.111.

Analysts said Trump, who has repeatedly called for a weaker dollar in 2019, was unlikely to ignore the yuan's depreciation.

“There is also a risk later that President Trump responds to 7+ levels in $/CNY by claiming that China is playing a big currency manipulation game. This may extend to a threat to weaken the dollar, which will only encourage short positions in USD/JPY and a pick-up in traded volatility prices,” ING analysts said.

The Swiss franc, another safe-haven currency, strengthened 0.2 per cent to 1.0883 francs per euro, a two-year high.

Sterling fell again after media speculation over the weekend that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was preparing for a general election. The pound shed 0.5 per cent to $1.2105, not far from its two-year low of $1.2080 touched last week. It was 0.5 per cent weaker against the euro at 91.84 pence.

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Published on August 05, 2019
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