* Yuan gains 0.2 pct, most since October
* Yuan hits record high of 6.0517/dlr on record fixing
* C.bank seen targeting 3 pct appreciation in 2013
* C.bank has reduced intervention in recent days
SHANGHAI, Dec 31 (Reuters) - China's yuan hit a record high for the third straight session and was headed for its best day in over two months on Tuesday, as the central bank steered the currency higher to meet a pre-determined full-year target, traders said. Spot yuan touched an all-time high of 6.0517 per dollar in late morning, 0.2 percent firmer than Monday's close, and was heading for its largest one-day rise since Oct. 14. It remained near that level at midday. The steep gain came after the People's Bank of China (PBOC) set its strongest midpoint ever at 6.0969, 0.1 percent firmer than Monday's fix. "The central bank already had a target at the beginning of the year for a 3 percent rise. They have one every year," said a Chinese forex trader at a city commercial bank in Shanghai. Based on 2012's closing level of 6.2303, a 3 percent rise implies a closing level for 2013 of 6.0488, within 0.05 percent of Tuesday's midday level. Despite the gains in recent days, traders say that corporate yuan demand has tapered off in the last few days of the year. Foreign exchange purchases by Chinese banks, a key proxy for foreign capital inflows, will likely be lower in December year than the elevated levels of recent months. But the central bank's strong midpoints in recent days -- and its apparent lack of intervention to temper gains in the spot market -- has signaled to the market that the currency was free to rise, traders say. For most of this year, the central bank has guided the yuan steadily stronger with its daily midpoint but intervened periodically in the spot market via large state-owned banks to temper the pace of appreciation. Looking ahead, traders say that the yuan is likely to maintain steady appreciation in 2014, buoyed by China's strong trade surplus.
The onshore spot yuan market at a glance:
Item Current Previous Change (pct) PBOC midpoint 6.0969 6.1024 +0.09 Spot yuan 6.0517 6.0618 +0.17
Divergence from midpoint* -0.74 (pct)
Spot change ytd +2.95 Spot change since 2005 revaluation +36.76
Divergence of the dollar/yuan exchange rate. Negative number indicates that spot yuan is trading stronger than the midpoint. The People's Bank of China (PBOC) allows the exchange rate to rise or fall 1 percent from official midpoint rate it sets each morning.
OFFSHORE CNH MARKET
The offshore yuan market at a glance
Instrument Current Difference from onshore
Offshore spot yuan 6.0565 -0.08* Offshore non-deliverable 6.1210 -0.39**
*Premium for offshore spot over onshore
**Figure reflects difference from PBOC's official midpoint, since non-deliverable forwards are settled against the midpoint. .
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> RECENT DEVELOPMENTS - Hot money distorts China's exports as speculators seek to cash in on yuan, rate reforms - China central bank suggests faster tempo for freeing yuan
- China investors face bumpy ride as reform speculation intensifies - CHINA MONEY - PBOC preparing market for more yuan volatility
KEY DATA POINTS - Hot money returned to China in Sept, Oct after two months of outflows GRAPHIC: http://link.reuters.com/saz74t - China's trade surpluses mainly driven by weak imports rather than strong exports. GRAPHIC: http://link.reuters.com/qav68s - Corporate FX behavior reflects yuan appreciation expectations. GRAPHIC: http://link.reuters.com/tyx74t - Despite relatively stable dollar/yuan exchange rate, the yuan is appreciating on a trade-weighted basis. GRAPHIC: http://link.reuters.com/sed74t
(Editing by Kim Coghill)