China lowers yuan rate by most in three months

China’s central bank has cut its currency exchange rate against the dollar by the largest amount in three months

Shanghai (AFP) – China’s central bank cut its currency exchange rate against the dollar by the largest amount in three months Thursday as the greenback strengthened on improved Chinese trade data.

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) set the yuan at 6.4891 to $1.0, down 0.46 percent from Wednesday’s fix, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System, the biggest one-day drop since January.

Authorities only allow the yuan to rise or fall two percent on either side of the daily fix, to prevent volatility and maintain control over the currency.

A lower yuan should make Chinese goods cheaper on world markets and repeated cuts in the rate last August and again in January raised fears Beijing was seeking to devalue the unit to give its exporters a competitive advantage. Officials have repeatedly said they have no intention of doing so.

The dollar rose after China released data Wednesday showing exports surged more than expected in March, the latest results suggesting a growth slowdown in the world’s number two economy could be easing.

Tommy Xie, a Singapore-based economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking, told Bloomberg News the lower fixing was “a reflection of the overnight dollar recovery”, but added that the drop was not as big as expected and expected further weakening.

Beijing has spent huge sums to support the currency and stem capital flight since rattling investors with the surprise devaluation in August, when it guided the normally stable unit down nearly five percent in a week.

The PBoC on Wednesday provided 285.5 billion yuan to 17 financial institutions through its medium-term lending facility to maintain liquidity in the banking system, it said in a statement on its official microblog.

It also injected 40 billion yuan through its regular open market operation Thursday.

The onshore yuan was quoted at 6.4837 to $1.0 at around 10:00 am (0200 GMT) on Thursday, down 0.25 percent from the previous day’s close.