If China let the market set the yuan's value, it would be a lot lower right now. Photograph by Karl Johaentges — Getty Images/LOOK

China’s Yuan Just Sunk to an 8-Year Low Against the Dollar

Nov 15, 2016

It just keeps falling.

China’s currency dived today to its lowest level since late 2008. China’s yuan now trades around 6.86 to $1, just a few years after economists were betting the currency would rise past 6 to $1 and China’s government would no longer be able to suppress its strength.

This year the yuan has fallen 5%, from 6.5 to $1, and China’s central bank shows no signs of stopping the latest slide. The central bank did little this past week to support the yuan, traders reported, after earlier interventions this year to buy the yuan have reduced China’s foreign reserves from a high around $4 trillion to $3.2 trillion recently.

The yuan is under heavy selling pressure in large part because of the screaming rise of the U.S. dollar following Donald Trump’s election victory. Expectations of higher interest rates during his presidency have followed, which would prop up the dollar’s value.The dollar is now hovering around a decade-and-a-half high against a basket of world currencies. Even though the yuan is no longer directly pegged to the dollar, it is still heavily influenced by its moves.

More than a year ago, China’s surprise yuan 2% devaluation was held up in Donald Trump’s circles as the moves of a currency manipulator. Since then, traders have kept pushing it down, to the chagrin of Chinese officials who are trying to prevent its slide from driving even greater capital outflows from the country. So far, they’ve been unsuccessful.

And the yuan’s fall may be far from over: advance one-year offshore contracts for the currency fell to 7.04 to $1 recently, Reuters reported, which would be another 3% fall from the yuan’s current level.

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