Is the PBoC starting to guide the yuan downward outright against the dollar after two years of trying to boost its value? The move seems to be reflecting concern in Beijing over Chinaâ€™s slowing economy. Is this enough of an excuse to risk a political fight with the US? Market perception is beginning to think that way now that the yuan has been trading at the lower end of its government mandated range this week. Up to this point investors figured that it was a one way speculative trade outright. The PBoC has fixed USDCNY at 6.3325, 56 pips lower than yesterdayâ€™s fix but still substantially higher than levels at the beginning of the month. Perhaps a reversal towards CNY strength according to analysts will come after the political transition in October along with signs of recovery in domestic growth in the latter half of the year.
Below are some other highlights of the week:
- JPY: The week started with the Japanese finance minister again warning the market that the government will watch future currency moves with a heightened sense of concern.
- SGD: Singaporeâ€™s headline inflation rose to +5.3%, y/y, in June, up from +5% in May, and above consensus for a more modest rise to +5.1%, y/y.
- AUD: Aussie PPI rose +0.5%, q/q, in Q2, compared with fall of +0.3%, q/q in Q1. Also, it rose +1.1%, y/y in Q2, following +1.4% rise in Q1.
- CNY: The HSBC China Flash Manufacturing PMI rose to 49.5 July from 48.2 in June, marking the first increase in three months. New orders rebounded to 48.9 in July from 46.8 in June, and export orders rose to 48.2 from 45.9. The final PMI release is due out on 31 July, and markets are expecting a 50.2 reading.
- AUD: RBA Governor Glenn Stevens noted a more upbeat outlook for the domestic economy in his speech titled â€œThe lucky countryâ€. Stevens said that Australian domestic vulnerability to global panic has diminished, and that although China has slowed, its recent data suggest that this is a normal cyclical slowing rather than a sudden slump. He saw scope for policy to adjust if world growth slumps and argued that in the case of any new sharp rise in global stress, the AUD would likely weaken, providing stimulus for the Australian economy.
- THB: The BoT kept the policy rate unchanged at +3%, in line with consensus.
- CNY: Chinaâ€™s Ministry of Industry said economic growth will likely pick up in the second half of 2012 and the ministry will seek to prevent industrial production growth rate from sliding further.
- IMF: They said that Chinaâ€™s slowing economy faces significant downside risks and relies too much on investment, and urged its â€œleaders to boost consumption and channel householdsâ€™ savings away from housing.â€
- AUD: Aussie headline inflation came in at +1.2%, y/y, or +0.5%, q/q, up from +0.1% in Q1, and a touch below consensus of +0.6%. The underlying measures of inflation are more or less in line with expectations with the trimmed mean at +0.5%, q/q, and weighted median at +0.7%. Does this give the RBA more room for cuts?
- JPY: Japan unexpectedly posted a merchandise trade surplus of +Â¥61.7b in June, compared with a deficit of +Â¥910.4b in May. Exports contracted -2.3%, y/y, in June after rising +10%.
- SGD: The MAS tightened its forecast range for inflation, effectively raising it, to +4.0%-4.5% from +3.5%-4.5% as part of its annual report released this week.
- KRW: South Korean consumer confidence was at 100 in July, down from 101 in June. The Bank of Korea Governor Choong Soo said he sees downside risk to this years growth target of +3%, citing Europeâ€™s protracted debt crisis.
- THB: Thailandâ€™s June exports fell -2.5%, y/y or -5.6%, m/m on a seasonally adjusted basis.
- NZD: Kiwi annual trade deficit narrowed to -NZ\$747m in June, compared with the -NZ\$876m revised deficit in May. Imports fell to +NZ\$3.87bn, but exports were more resilient at NZ\$4.2b.
- PHP: The Philippinesâ€™ total imports rose by +10.1%, y/y in May, compared with -13.6% in April.
- NZD: The Kiwis at the RBNZ left the cash rate unchanged as expected and kept the tone in the statement fairly neutral. The bank highlighted the continued recovery in domestic housing market activity and reconstruction in the Canterbury region, but acknowledged offsetting effects from the poor global growth outlook, fiscal consolidation, and the strength of the currency.
- PHP: The Philippines central bank (BSP) cut its policy rate to a new low of +3.75% from +4%, against consensus for rates to be on hold. The move is cited as preemptive to a global slowdown and in response to receding inflation pressures.
- KRW: Koreaâ€™s GDP rose +0.4%, q/q in Q2, down substantially from +0.9% in Q1 and weaker than consensus expectations for a +0.5% rise.
- JPY: Japan’s corporate service price index fell -0.3%, y/y in June, after rising +0.1% in May, dropping for the first time in three-months.
- JPY: Japanâ€™s core CPI fell +0.2%, y/y in June, following a -0.1% dip in May. Separately, retail sales rose just +0.2%, y/y in June, compared with rise of +3.6% in May.
- THB: Thai manufacturing production fell sharply in June, down -9.6%, y/y after +6% rise in May. The sharp fall in manufacturing production and softer exports will likely fuel expectations of rate cuts in Thailand, especially following the dovish shift at the last BoT policy meeting and recent cuts by other central banks in the region.
- KRW: South Koreaâ€™s current-account surplus widened to +\$5.8b in June, compared with a revised surplus of +\$3.6b in May.