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Chinese yuan could hit 7.3 per dollar by the end of the year, CLSA says - CNBC

SEPTEMBER 10, 2019

KEY POINTS

  • The Chinese yuan is set to weaken further against the dollar as trade tensions between the United States and China continue, according to CLSA Chief Economist Eric Fishwick.
  • He told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Monday that he predicts the yuan to reach around 7.3 per dollar by the end of the year.
  • The yuan has been closely watched by investors, economists and other market watchers in recent months because it is seen as one of the tools China can use in response to rising U.S. tariffs.

GP: China Yuan US Dollars CHINA-CURRENCY-US

A Chinese bank employee counts 100-yuan notes and US dollar bills at a bank counter in Nantong in China’s eastern Jiangsu province on August 6, 2019.

STR | AFP | Getty Images

The Chinese yuan is set to weaken further against the dollar as trade tensions between the United States and China continue, according to CLSA Chief Economist Eric Fishwick.

Fishwick predicts the yuan will reach around 7.3 per dollar by the end of the year. On Tuesday morning, the yuan traded around 7.1144 against the U.S. currency on the Chinese mainland.

“Looking at how the currency trades, it is very clearly demonstrated that it is being used as a way to offset the effects of tariffs,” Fishwick told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Monday. “So, the yuan is allowed to weaken whenever the U.S. ratchets the tensions higher.”

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“I think that the forces that are pushing the yuan lower are still in place,” he added.

The yuan has been closely watched by investors, economists and other market watchers in recent months because it is seen as one of the tools China can use in response to rising U.S. tariffs.

Last month, the currency weakened past a psychologically important level of 7 against the greenback. A weaker yuan, which is also known as the renminbi, would make China’s exports relatively cheaper on the international markets. The U.S. has repeatedly accused Beijing of keeping its currency weaker in order to gain a trade advantage over its competitors.

Since last year, the world’s two largest economies have imposed levies on billions of dollars worth of each other’s goods, which has affected international markets and dampened global growth outlook. Additional American tariffs are set to take effect on October 1 and December 15.

There’s no clear consensus among analysts on where the yuan might be headed, but many have said it depends on how the trade war escalates, or de-escalates.

Weak dollar in 2020

Going into 2020, the yuan could be modestly stronger because of the U.S. dollar, according to Fishwick.

“Looking into next year, for the first time in a long time, we’re able to talk about the prospects for the dollar weakening again,” he said. The U.S. economy is going to slow further as the effects from earlier tax cuts wind down, he said.

There are concerns that the American economy is slowing down and may even be headed for a recession. In August, jobs growth in the U.S. continued at a tepid pace as nonfarm payrolls fell short of expectations. While consumers remain strong, agriculture and manufacturing in the U.S. have declined amid the trade war with China.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of its peers, has declined from levels around 99.073 last week to 98.376 on Tuesday morning.

“Also, the U.S. looks more and more like a conventional late-cycle economy. I’ve brought my forecast down for the U.S. in 2020,” Fishwick said, adding that he expects the U.S. Federal Reserve to cut interest rates through next year.

“There’s no reason why the Fed should sit back from that. It doesn’t have an inflation problem to look for, so, I think it’s reasonable to assume the Fed cuts aggressively through 2020,” he said, adding that he expects four rate cuts next year from the U.S. central bank. “As the market focuses on those prospects for rate cuts, that’s the point at which I would expect the dollar to start to depreciate.”

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell recently said the U.S. central bank is not forecasting or expecting a recession. But he said trade uncertainty is weighing on business investment and confidence. In July, the Federal Open Market Committee cut the central bank’s benchmark overnight lending rate by 25 basis points for the first time since the global financial crisis.

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