October 25, 2018 / 10:19 AM / 23 days ago

China banks' net FX sales hit 15-month high as outflows rise in weakening economy

BEIJING (Reuters) - Net foreign exchanges sales by China’s commercial banks rose to their highest in 15 months in September, signaling increased capital outflows as the yuan falls in a slowing economy pressured by a bitter trade war with the United States.

A Chinese national flag is seen at a port in Beihai, Guangxi province, China June 17, 2017. Picture taken June 17, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

China’s commercial banks sold a net $17.6 billion of foreign exchange in September, compared with a net sale of $14.9 billion in August, the foreign exchange regulator showed on Thursday.

The September level is the highest since June 2017.

For the January to September period, net forex sales stood at $28.1 billion, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange said in a statement on its website.

The impact of Sino-U.S. trade frictions on China’s cross-border capital flows are largely under control, the regulator said, adding that Beijing will continue opening up its capital markets in an orderly manner.

China will further ease requirements on outbound remittance for investors under its under Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) and the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor(RQFII) programs, the regulator said.

Earlier data showed the central bank sold a net 119.4 billion yuan ($17.19 billion) worth of foreign exchange in September, the highest since January 2017 as it sought to slow the yuan’s decline.

The cost of defending the yuan was also seen in China’s September foreign exchange reserves, which fell more than expected to a 14-month low in a sign of emerging stress from the trade dispute with the United States.

The yuan CNY=CFXS, which has fallen just over 6 percent against the dollar so far this year, is approaching the psychologically important level of 7 to the dollar.

The central bank has cut reserve requirements for lenders four times this year in a bid to support the slowing economy, which grew 6.5 percent in the third-quarter, the weakest pace since the global financial crisis.

($1 = 6.9457 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by China Monitoring Desk and Kevin Yao; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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