China's capital outflows ease on stable economy, yuan

Updated 2017-05-08 09:01:23 Xinhua

Pressure from capital flight has eased markedly as the Chinese economy firms up and the yuan stabilizes against the U.S. dollar.

China's forex reserves rose for the third month in a row in April, central bank data showed Sunday.

Forex reserves climbed to 3.0295 trillion U.S. dollars at the end of April from 3.0091 trillion dollars a month earlier, up 0.7 percent month on month, according to statistics from the People's Bank of China.

This was the first time since June 2014 the reserves expanded for three consecutive months.

The country's gold reserves also increased from 73.7 billion U.S. dollars by the end of March to over 75 billion U.S. dollars by the end of April.

The State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) attributed the continuous rise of forex reserves to stable cross-border capital flow and yuan appreciation.

Chinese enterprises have become more rational in buying forex thanks to a firmer economy and a stable yuan, SAFE said in a statement, adding that the size of forex reserves would become more stable in the future as the economy maintains steady expansion and the foreign exchange rate stays in a reasonable range.

There had been growing concerns about capital flowing out of the Chinese market in the second half of 2016, when the economy was facing looming downward pressure and the Chinese yuan was in the middle of a losing streak against the U.S. dollar.

In January, China's forex reserves declined below the closely watched 3-trillion-dollar mark for the first time since February 2011.

However, concerns about capital outflows have receded lately, with the Chinese economy on firmer footing, supported by a string of upbeat data including industrial profits, factory activity and fixed-asset investment.

The Chinese economy expanded 6.9 percent in the first quarter of this year, up 0.1 percent compared with Q4 2016.

However, the world's second-largest economy showed signs of softening momentum as the latest PMI data pointed to slower expansion of manufacturing and service activities in April, possibly due to tightening financial regulation.

The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday left its benchmark interest rates unchanged as the central bank waited on more data to assess the U.S. economic outlook.

Most investors expected a rate hike at the Fed's June 13-14 meeting, which might add pressure for yuan weakness and capital outflows.

China does not want nor need to depreciate its currency to gain export competitiveness, and the PBOC's moves to inject liquidity into the forex market aim to avoid irrational depreciation and market panic, Pan Gongsheng, head of SAFE, wrote in the latest edition of China Finance, a leading industry magazine managed by the central bank.

"China's efforts to improve foreign exchange rate flexibility while maintaining stability are good for the world as they avoid spillover of disorderly yuan fluctuations and competitive depreciation of major currencies," Pan added.

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