China money rates plunge as quarter-end pressure eases
By Pete Sweeney SHANGHAI, April 4 (Reuters) - China's major money rates plunged on Friday morning as cash flooded back into the market as demand to make quarter-end payments eased. The benchmark seven-day bond repurchase rate spent most of the week trading above 4 percent, but on Friday it opened at 3.00 percent, down more than a full percentage point from Thursday's close. Ensuing trades pulled the weighted average down further to stand at 2.99 percent by late morning. One trader said the surprisingly low opening quote was likely set by a large transaction by a larger state-owned bank, which managed to dictate market sentiment going forward. That marked a weekly decline of over 122 basis points for the contract. The 14-day contract also slid, albeit more gradually over the course of the week, to end down 119 basis points. The overnight repo was largely flat, but gained slightly by week-end to 2.77 percent, a weekly gain of 2.25 basis points. Markets were heartened by a relatively mild drain executed by the central bank this week during open market operations, which saw the People's Bank of China pull 62 billion yuan ($10 billion) out of the interbank market. Traders are concerned going forward that pressure for upcoming tax payments in April, plus more bond issuances in the pipeline, will diminish supply, causing rates to rise again. "It's clear that the monetary authorities will not choose easing as part of its efforts to boost the economy for now," said a dealer at a major Chinese state-owned bank in Shanghai. "The market believes at least for the second quarter, the PBOC will neither cut RRR nor official interest rates." But this is not a matter of consensus, given uncertainties about what the PBOC's long-term intentions are towards the interbank market. Last year saw the bank either tolerating or provoking rises in rates, which many said was intended as a swipe at shadow banking activities, but beginning in February short-term rates have been extremely accommodative. This, in the context of weak recent macroeconomic data, has some speculating that Beijing is in fact getting ready to ease up on the money supply to keep growth on track, even reduce the reserve-requirement ratio, which would pour long-term base money into the system. Zhang Zhiwei, an economist at Nomura Securities in Hong Kong, argued as much, saying that recent announcements about increases in railway spending and shantytown upgrades suggest easier policy is on the way. "This is important in our view, as it suggests credit supply (as measured by total social financing) may pick up in Q2 ... We reiterate our view that both monetary and fiscal policies will be loosened in Q2," he wrote in a research note on Wednesday. Others, however, believe the decline in rates was a side effect of an intervention to suppress the yuan exchange rate and shake out speculators; as that campaign winds down over the next few months, Beijing will return to the relatively more elevated rate regime seen in 2013, continuing to encourage banks and corporates to deleverage. "The Chinese leadership clearly wants to see a stable growth rate," wrote GaveGal Dragonomics economist Joyce Poon in a research note, arguing that stable employment is required to push forward other structural reforms. But Poon also doubted Beijing is preparing to reembark on a stimulus spending spree. "China's leaders are well aware of the dangers that massive credit expansion and distorted state sector investment incentives would pose to the country's economic health." For its part, the PBOC has simply reiterated it will maintain a prudent monetary policy going forward. The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said on Friday that it will conduct regional and national stress tests after banks saw a spike in bad loans last year, the Shanghai Securities News reported on Friday, reflecting growing creditworthiness concerns. SHORT TERM RATES: Instrument RIC Rate* Change (weekly, bps)** 1-day repo CN1DRP=CFXS 2.77 2.25 7-day repo CN7DRP=CFXS 2.99 -122.85 14-day repo CN14DRP=CFXS 4.28 -119.01 7-day SHIBOR SHICNYSWD= 4.10 -6.5 *The volume-weighted average price (Vwap) at midday Friday ** Compared to the Vwap at market close the previous Friday KEY INTEREST RATE SWAPS: Instrument RIC Rate Spread (bps) 2 yr IRS based on 1 CNABAD2YF= 3.0009 0 year benchmark * 5 yr 7-day repo swap CNYQB7R5Y= 4.6600 166 1 yr 7-day repo swap CNYQB7R1Y= 4.4100 141 *This spread can be seen as a proxy for forward-looking market expectations of an interest rate cut or rise. GOVERNMENT BOND FUTURES Instrument RIC Rate Change (weekly, bps) Jun 2014 5 yr CTFM4 92.32 -24.30 Sep 2014 5 yr CTFU4 92.78 -23.25 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> MARKET DRIVERS - China to reform money market pricing to eliminate manipulation-sources - China's central bank opens liquidity front in hot money war - China's attack on yuan speculators risks backfiring - Market braces for bouts of tight liquidity in 2014 - Beijing eases corporate debt rules to offset crackdown DATA POINTS - Fiscal deposits drive interbank liquidity trends GRAPHIC: link.reuters.com/pem75t - Maturing central bank bills and repos upcoming GRAPHIC: r.reuters.com/vyr95t - Chinese government bond curve rises on rate reform expectations GRAPHIC: link.reuters.com/jyr95t - China's interest-rate swap curve rises, flattens on liquidity fears GRAPHIC: link.reuters.com/ryr95t - China corp bond spreads widen on risk aversion GRAPHIC: link.reuters.com/bas95t - China hot money tracker: Large hot money inflows to China in late 2013 GRAPHIC: link.reuters.com/saz74t >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> ($1 = 6.2107 Chinese Yuan) (Additional reporting by Lu Jianxin and Chen Yixin; Editing by Chris Gallagher)
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