SHANGHAI, July 20 (Reuters) - The yuan traded lower at midday after swinging in a tight range around the critical 7 per dollar level on Monday morning, as ongoing Sino-U.S. tensions pressured sentiment but investors were yet to gauge any substantive actions. China's embassy in Myanmar on Sunday accused the United States of "outrageously smearing" the country and driving a wedge with its Southeast Asian neighbors over the contested South China Sea and Hong Kong, reflecting the increasingly fraught relations between the superpowers. Yuan traders said recent news headlines suggested that tensions between the world's two largest economies were escalating, but impact on the currency remained limited as neither side mentioned they would break the Phase 1 trade deal. "The trend of a weaker dollar has not yet changed significantly, as long as the Sino-U.S. trade agreement is not substantially disrupted, market's optimistic expectations for the yuan will sustain," analysts at China Construction Bank (Asia) said in a note. They said they still see upside room for the yuan after some short-term correction. The onshore yuan opened at 6.9933 per dollar and was changing hands at 6.9945 at midday, 30 pips weaker than the previous late session close. Prior to market opening, the People's Bank of China set the midpoint rate at 6.9928 per dollar, 115 pips or 0.16% firmer than the previous fix of 7.0043. Several yuan traders said much of their focus was on the European Union Summit, where leaders were haggling over a plan to revive economies laid low by the coronavirus pandemic. The decision could affect the euro and other major currencies' movements. Separately, the yuan was little reacted to the news that China kept its benchmark lending rate steady for the third straight month, matching market expectations, amid signs that the world's second-largest economy is recovering from the shock coronavirus pandemic. The yuan market at 0400 GMT: ONSHORE SPOT: Item Current Previous Change PBOC midpoint 6.9928 7.0043 0.16% Spot yuan 6.9945 6.9915 -0.04% Divergence from 0.02% midpoint* Spot change YTD -0.45% Spot change since 2005 18.33% revaluation Key indexes: Item Current Previous Change Thomson 92.7 92.7 0.0 Reuters/HKEX CNH index Dollar index 96.151 95.927 0.2 *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% from official midpoint rate it sets each morning. OFFSHORE CNH MARKET Instrument Current Difference from onshore Offshore spot yuan 6.9927 0.03% * Offshore 7.1177 -1.75% non-deliverable forwards ** *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 Winni Zhou and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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