China's economy continues to face challenges as data released on Thursday showed a decline in exports for the fourth consecutive month and a drop in imports. These numbers have only added to existing worries about the country slipping into deflation and its struggling property sector. As a result, China's onshore yuan reached a 16-year low against the dollar, while the offshore currency dropped to its lowest level since its creation in 2010.
Despite efforts by the People's Bank of China to provide support, including setting a stronger-than-expected daily reference rate for over 50 days, the currency continues to weaken. The central bank also recently surprised markets with a cut in a key policy rate, which many believed came too late to effectively bolster China's economy.
These developments highlight the deepening concerns surrounding China's currency and its overall economic stability. As the world's second-largest economy, China's struggles have global implications and raise questions about the future direction of international trade and financial markets.
The Growing Pressure on the Yuan
"We think the monetary policy or fiscal support has been tepid at best and pressure continues to be on the yuan to weaken as concern over China’s economy or potential bigger risk events — further issues in the property market, for example — gets priced in," said Tom Nakamura, a currency strategist and co-head of fixed income at AGF Investments in Toronto. With over $30.9 billion (CAD $42.3 billion) in assets as of Aug. 31 under its management, AGF Investments is closely monitoring the situation.
The Yuan's Downward Spiral
According to Nakamura, the bigger problem facing investors globally would be the factors that might lead to even sharper downward moves in the yuan. He highlights that eroding confidence in China could shift from a cyclical or medium-term concern to something more long-term. In such a scenario, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) may resort to more aggressive intervention, including buying gold or selling assets to fund their intervention. However, questions arise about whether the sheer size of China's reserves would be sufficient or available to help. Nakamura believes that despite these concerns, we are not at a point that would unnerve investors globally.
Gauging the Weakness of the Yuan
Nakamura suggests that it is difficult to determine exactly what levels of the yuan would be needed to unsettle global investors. However, he notes that other measures of the onshore yuan, such as its performance against the euro, suggest that the weakness is not nearly as alarming. Therefore, there may still be room for stabilization.
The Strength of the Dollar
Meanwhile, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index indicates that the U.S. currency is on track for its eighth consecutive weekly advance. This ongoing rally would mark one of the longest streaks in years for the greenback. The strength of the dollar can be attributed to the resilient U.S. economy, which continues to defy expectations. This resilience increases the likelihood that Federal Reserve policy makers will maintain elevated interest rates.
The Impact of China on the U.S. Dollar and Stock Market
The ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY experienced a slight increase of nearly 0.2% during Thursday morning. In contrast, U.S. stocks SPX COMP faced a downward trend while Treasury yields witnessed a broad decline in New York trading.
Effects of Eroding Confidence in China
In conclusion, fluctuations in China's economic outlook have the potential to significantly impact the U.S. Dollar Index, Treasury yields, and ultimately influence the pricing of U.S. stocks.