Chinese banks see first net forex purchase in over 2 years

Updated 2017-10-20 10:32:55 Xinhua

Chinese banks saw a net foreign exchange purchase of 300 million U.S. dollars in September, the first settlement surplus in more than two years as cross-border capital flows stabilized, official data showed Thursday.

Chinese lenders bought 156 billion U.S. dollars' worth of foreign currency last month and sold 155.7 billion dollars, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said in a statement.

The data broke a deficit sequence that had been running for over two years.

In the first three quarters, Chinese banks bought 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars' worth of foreign currency and sold 1.31 trillion dollars, resulting in a net sales of 112.9 billion dollars.

The amount marked a 54-percent drop from the deficit seen in the same period last year, and showed that supply and demand in the forex market was "basically" balanced, the SAFE said.

Businesses and individuals have become less willing to hold foreign currency, the regulator said.

Given China's sound economic fundamentals, wider openness and more stable market expectations, cross-border capital flows will continue to be balanced and stable, the SAFE predicted.

Regarding the possible effect of U.S. balance sheet reduction, the regulator said the move will not cause fundamental changes to cross-border capital flows.

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

In January, China's forex reserves had plunged below 3 trillion U.S. dollars, but as the economy stands on a firmer footing and the yuan continues to stabilize, the stockpile has increased steadily since February.

China's forex reserves rose for the eighth month in a row in September to 3.1085 trillion U.S. dollars, its highest level since October of 2016.

Official data on Thursday showed China's economy continued steady expansion in the first three quarters of this year, with growth at 6.9 percent year on year, well above the government's annual target of 6.5 percent.

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