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HONG KONG, Oct 9 (Reuters) - The yuan weakened to a one-month low in early trade Wednesday as U.S.-China tensions rose ahead of high-level trade talks, but it recouped losses by midday as investors waited for news from the negotiations. Hopes of progress in ending the trade war, never high to begin with, receded after Washington imposed visa restrictions on Tuesday on Chinese officials for the detention or abuse of Muslim minorities. It had blacklisted some Chinese companies, citing the same issue, a day earlier. U.S. officials said the two sides would still hold high-level talks on Thursday and Friday, days before Washington is set to hike tariffs on Chinese goods.
"The re-escalating China-U.S. tensions could spoil the trade deal and the spillover of China-U.S. conflicts to financial and tech sectors would fuel global recession risks," Ken Cheung, chief Asian FX strategist at Mizuho Bank, wrote in a note on Wednesday. At midday, spot yuan opened at 7.1530 to the dollar, its weakest level since Sept. 6. But by midday it was largely unchanged at 7.1436. The offshore yuan, which digested the negative news overnight, firmed 0.2%. "Although the headlines were relatively negative, there is no material impact on the trade talks," said a Shanghai-based trader with a Chinese bank, adding that U.S. actions this week were likely negotiating tactics. The daily guidance rate by the People's Bank of China (PBOC) also tamed depreciation expectations, two other traders in Shanghai said. The central bank set the midpoint rate at 7.0728 prior to the market open, just a touch weaker than the previous fix of 7.0726 but much firmer than Reuters' estimate of 7.0929.
The Thomson Reuters/HKEX Global CNH index, which tracks the offshore yuan against a basket of currencies on a daily basis, stood at 91.07, weaker than the previous day's 91.3. The global dollar index fell to 99.089 from the previous close of 99.133. Offshore one-year non-deliverable forwards contracts (NDFs), considered the best available proxy for forward-looking market expectations of the yuan's value, traded at 7.2008, 1.78 percent weaker than from the midpoint. One-year NDFs are settled against the midpoint, not the spot rate.
The yuan market at 4:00AM GMT:
Item Current Previous ChangePBOC midpoint 7.0728 7.0726 0.00%Spot yuan 7.1436 7.1465 0.04%Divergence from 1.00%
Spot change YTD -3.79%Spot change since 2005 15.86%
Item Current Previous ChangeThomson 91.07 91.3 -0.3
Reuters/HKEX CNH index
Dollar index 99.089 99.133 0.0
*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 2 percent from official midpoint rate it sets each morning.
OFFSHORE CNH MARKET
Instrument Current Difference
Offshore spot yuan 7.15 -0.09%*Offshore 7.2008 -1.78%
*Premium for offshore spot over onshore
**Figure reflects difference from PBOC's official midpoint, since non-deliverable forwards are settled against the midpoint. .
(Reporting by Noah Sin; Additional reporting by Han Xiao in Beijing; Editing by Kim Coghill)