Yuan rises to 7-wk high after PBOC set midpoint at highest since 2015 devaluation

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SHANGHAI, March 27 (Reuters) - China's yuan extended its gains against the U.S. dollar to a seven-week high on Tuesday after the central bank set its official fixing at the strongest level in more than two-and-a-half years.

Prior to market opening, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) lifted its official yuan midpoint to 6.2816 per dollar, 377 pips, or 0.6 percent, firmer than Monday's fix of 6.3193.

Tuesday's official guidance rate was the strongest since Aug. 11, 2015, when China shocked global markets with a sharp 2 percent one-off currency devaluation.

Tuesday's official fixing largely matched market expectations. And the strength in the fixing drove the spot yuan higher.

The onshore yuan opened at 6.2579 per dollar and surged to a high of 6.2523 at one point in early trade, the strongest level since Feb. 7.

The spot yuan rate was trading at 6.2646 as of 0152 GMT, 161 pips firmer than the previous late session close and 0.27 percent stronger than the midpoint.

(Reporting by Winni Zhou and John Ruwitch; Editing by Sam Holmes)