Overnight we got a clear lesson why this highly convex trade would be prudent in the current trade war environment, when Bloomberg reported at 3am EDT that China is "evaluating the potential impact of a gradual yuan depreciation" citing people familiar with the matter said, as the country’s leaders are weighing their possible responses in the escalating trade war with President Trump.
As a reminder, a devaluation was one of the "nuclear" retaliation options listed here on Friday, and is certain to provoke an even harsher response by the US. Still, this appears not to have spooked senior Chinese officials who are reportedly studying a "two-pronged analysis of the yuan that was prepared by the government": one part looks at the effect of using the currency as a tool in trade negotiations with the U.S., while a second part examines what would happen if China depreciates the yuan to offset the impact of any trade deal that curbs exports.
Still, the analysis doesn’t mean officials will carry out a devaluation, which would require approval from top leaders.
In kneejerk response, both the onshore and offshore yuan weakened as much as 0.2% to 6.3186 per dollar in onshore trading and 6.3211 for the offshore pair.
At the same time, the dollar climbed against the yen and other EM currencies in response: "USD seems to be regaining some ground on the back of the headline" said Valentin Marinov, head of G-10 FX research at Credit Agricole. “The story seems to suggest that the Chinese are discussing the idea of FX depreciation rather than work on an imminent change in FX policy."
Ironically, while Trump has bashed China on the campaign trail and more recently on Twitter, for keeping its currency artificially weak, the yuan has gained about 9% against the greenback since he took office and has been steady in recent weeks despite the escalation of trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies, prompted by a weaker dollar. The Chinese currency touched the strongest level since August 2015 last month.
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