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Dollar struggles as markets await China yuan fixing for clues on depreciation plans

(Reuters) – The dollar struggled early on Thursday after retreating broadly overnight as the yuan’s depreciation slowed, with the market awaiting the Chinese currency’s daily fixing for clues on how far Beijing will let it slide.

The dollar hovered at 124.215 yen after dropping 0.7 percent overnight, when it had come tumbling down from a two-month high of 125.28.

The greenback reversed amid speculation that the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) had intervened in the market to slow the yuan’s fall by selling dollars.

Spot yuan fell to a four-year low of 6.451 on Wednesday before pulling sharply back to 6.387.

It has lost about 3 percent since China’s surprise devaluation on Tuesday, and sources involved in the policy-making process told Reuters that powerful voices inside the government were pushing for it to go still lower.

Their comments, which offered a rare insight into the argument going on behind the scenes in Beijing, suggest there is political pressure for an overall devaluation of almost 10 percent, though economists polled by Reuters see a more modest decline

The euro was steady at $1.1156, not far from a one-month high of $1.1215 scaled overnight on growing doubts that the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates in September after China’s devaluation further clouded the outlook for the global economy.

"Pressure to unwind dollar long positions is mounting and focus is on how long this trend will continue. ‘China risk’ has dampened hopes for a September rate hike and upcoming data could further chip away at expectations for a Fed tightening," said Junichi Ishikawa, market analyst at IG Securities in Tokyo.

While trading was quiet early on Thursday, investors braced for the Chinese yuan’s midpoint fixing around 0115 GMT.

China’s surprise move on Tuesday has been of general benefit of the dollar but sent emerging market currencies and the Australian and New Zealand dollars into reverse.





The central bank continued to cause ripples the following day by again setting the yuan’s midpoint significantly lower.

The focus fell on how much lower the PBOC would set the yuan midpoint on Wednesday, with the dollar expected to gain a breather should the authorities allow the Chinese currency to weaken significantly.

The Australian dollar was little changed at $0.7372 after bounce sharply from a six-year trough of $0.7217 struck overnight thanks to a bounce in prices of commodities mauled earlier in the week by China’s currency move.

The New Zealand dollar was also mostly steady at $0.6615 after pulling away from six-year low of $0.6468 plumbed on Wednesday. (TOKYO/Aug 1/2015)

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