US dollar falls amid volatility in Chinese equities, currency markets

Analysts believe the yuan, or renminbi, will keep depreciating this year despite Beijing’s tight grip on currency flows.

The US dollar fell against the Japanese yen after China devalued its yuan currency making foreign exchange investors to buy more yen amid worries about the health of the Chinese economy. The yen rose 0.7% against the greenback at 117.65 on Thursday.

For the second time in four days, China suspended equities trading after stocks plunged on Thursday.

The government also announced other measures aimed at fostering a soft landing in the slowing economy, including a sharp devaluation of the yuan currency that raised talk of a currency war on Thursday.

Authorities lowered the yuan’s central rate against the greenback by 0.5% to 6.5646 (nearly Rs 65.30), the weakest since March 2011 on Thursday. The yuan closed at 6.5929 per dollar (nearly Rs 65.96), its weakest level since mid-February 2011.

Analysts believe the yuan, or renminbi, will keep depreciating this year despite Beijing’s tight grip on currency flows. Mexico warned that China’s weakening of the yuan could trigger a global currency war as the peso hit new lows against the dollar.

“As the yuan moves, worries begin around the world that we could be entering a cycle of competitive devaluation, which is frankly a perverse phenomenon because if all countries end up devaluating, nobody will make itself more competitive,” Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said.

Forex investors fled to the traditional haven of the yen, which rose 0.7% against the greenback at 117.65 yen (nearly Rs 65.96) around 2200 GMT.

The euro also advanced — it is one of the so-called “funding” currencies investors flow into for buying riskier assets, like equities and commodities, which tumbled on Thursday. The 19-nation currency jumped 1.4% to $1.0928 (nearly Rs 72.81) and rose 0.6% to 128.58 yen (nearly Rs 71.96).

Analysts said the dollar was under pressure because the Chinese turbulence raised questions about how fast the US Federal Reserve will tighten monetary policy, after making the first interest rate increase in more than nine years in December.

“All eyes remain focused on tomorrow’s US payrolls report for December, which could help clarify the extent to which the US remains, at least for now, a bright spot in the otherwise uncertain global economic outlook,” said Omer Esiner of Commonwealth Foreign Exchange.

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