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The Chinese yuan plunged to a fresh six-year low against the dollar on Thursday, tracking a broad rally in the greenback after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election.
The yuan fell to 6.7918 against the dollar, down from 6.7769 on Wednesday. Thursday's slide put the Chinese currency at its lowest level since August 2010.
The dollar, which initially wobbled on Wednesday in Asian hours on investor worries about a Trump win, rose sharply after U.S. Treasury yields climbed Wednesday night on expectations the new administration in Washington would provide more fiscal stimulus to boost growth.
Greater fiscal stimulus would have to be funded by more bond issuance that could push prices down and yields up. Some analysts said they expected the prospect of higher yields to bolster the demand for the dollar at a time Treasury yields remain puny in other developed markets.
"We believe the outcome of a Republican clean sweep means fiscal loosening is now a foregone conclusion. We believe this will lead to both higher rates and a higher dollar," strategists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note.
China sets a daily reference rate that serves as a guide for where the yuan trades in the secondary market. This rate depends on the yuan's closing levels the previous day as well as moves in a broad basket of currencies. As such, the latest decline in the yuan also reflects external forces given the dollar strengthened against its global peers.
Still, the yuan's weakness comes at an interesting time. Trump has regularly criticized China for "manipulating" its currency and during his presidential campaign threatened to levy heavy tariffs on Chinese imports. Market participants will now keep a close eye on whether actual U.S. policies match his rhetoric.
Other analysts noted that the initial downdrift withstanding, the yuan may yet edge higher against the dollar. According to JPMorgan, the yen and the euro — two currencies that feature prominently in the People's Bank of China's (PBOC) currency baskets — are expected to benefit from Trump's anti-trade rhetoric.
"As the major reserve currencies take up a large share of the three respective trade-weight baskets that the PBOC tracks, the risk tilts towards near-term strengthening of the yuan against the dollar under the current yuan regime, considering the strengthening pressure of the major non-dollar reserve currencies," the JPMorgan analysts said.
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