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FX Strategy: Rise In USD/CNY Reflects USD Strength

Published 10/26/2016, 02:26 AM
Updated 05/14/2017, 06:45 AM

USD/CNY has continued higher recently. However, the recent move is a reflection of a stronger USD, not a weaker CNY (Chart 1). See also FX Strategy: USD/CNY highest in six years - more to come , 11 October 2016.

The trade-weighted USD has strengthened close to 5% over the past month, whereas the move in USD/CNY is only around 1.6%. This is also reflected in the CNY being stronger versus the EUR compared to a month ago. While capital outflows have picked up in the past months, the main driver of the recent USD/CNY move is thus USD strength. This in contrast with the rise in USD/CNY from August 2015 to July 2016, which was part of a broader CNY weakening.

There is no sign that China is intervening to stem the move in USD/CNY. This would show up in higher CNH money market rates but these are actually lower this week. It partly explains why the rise in USD/CNY is not associated with a risk-off move as was the case in January and over the summer when USD/CNY also moved up.

We continue to look for the CNY to weaken over the coming year. However, we expect it to be broader-based CNY weakness due to fading growth momentum in 2017 and increasing financial risks from a sharp rise in corporate debt and growth in shadow financing. With growth under pressure, China also needs a weaker currency to support the export sector. We look for USD/CNY to move to 7.1 +12m (current 6.77) and EUR/CNY to move to 8.38 +12M (current 7.37). Hence we continue to recommend hedging of receivables and see a short CNH position as a good hedge against financial turmoil in China.

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