China money market rates soar to 4-month high
China's money market rates spiked on Wednesday to a four-month high, a day after the country's central bank injected funds into the market to ease worries that it was planning to significantly tighten credit conditions.
The seven-day repo rate, viewed as a key gauge of confidence to lend in the interbank markets, rose to around 5.59 percent – up about 64 basis points from the previous day.
Analysts said that the jump in rates was seasonal in nature and at this stage were not too concerned about a repeat of events in June when a surge in money market rates fueled fears of a credit crunch in the world's number two economy.
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They added that liquidity infused into the market this week had not been large enough to push overnight lending rates significantly lower. The People's Bank of China (PBOC) injected 13 billion yuan ($2.13 billion) into money markets on Tuesday via an open market operation.
6-month view of 7-day repo rate
"Liquidity remains tight and the repo operation yesterday was small," said Nizam Idris, managing director, head of strategy, fixed income and currencies at Macquarie Bank. "China is still in the process of fine-tuning rates."
Chris Weston, chief market strategist at trading firm IG, added: "Month end is coming up and of course tax implications are being blamed for higher rates."
Chinese markets appeared to take the spike in money market rates in stride, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite stock index up 0.75 percent in afternoon Asia trade.
Analysts put this down to expectations that the PBOC would come into the market with larger injections of cash to ease any fears that it was preparing to tighten monetary conditions in a big way.
The PBOC typically conducts reverse-repurchase operations on Tuesday and Thursday, an opportunity for it to inject liquidity into Chinese money markets.
"They [PBOC policymakers] will probably provide liquidity on Thursday – at this point they don't want to risk the market freezing up again," said Yii Hui Wong, rates and foreign exchange strategist at BNP Paribas. "I still don't anticipate there's going to be a liquidity squeeze of the same scale as June."
In June, the seven-day repo rate rose to a record high above 10 percent and the overnight repo rate jumped as high as 30 percent.
Wong said one reason for the jump in the seven-day repo rate could be a 28 billion yuan ($4.60 billion) auction on Wednesday of one-year bills at a higher-than-expected yield of 4.01 percent.
"The market was expecting [a yield of] 3.8 percent and there's a question of whether China may be guiding rates higher," Wong said.
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Idris at Macquarie added: "At this level, I don't think the spike in rates will lead to fresh jitters, but if we get above 6 percent then we could get concerns about growth and slamming on the breaks too hard."
— By CNBC.com's Dhara Ranasinghe; Follow her on Twitter @DharaCNBC
— Additional reporting by Ansuya Harjani.