April 12, 2018 / 12:23 AM / 9 months ago

HK dollar eases to new 33-year low, hits weaker end of band

HONG KONG, April 12 (Reuters) - The Hong Kong dollar fell to a new 33-year low early on Thursday morning, hitting the lower end of the monetary authority’s targeted trading band, as the interest rate gap between U.S. dollar and Hong Kong dollar widened further.

The former British colony pegs its currency to the greenback, and so its money market rates mirror that of its U.S. counterparts. The gap between the two has widened since the 2008 financial crisis, as the U.S. central bank has started raising interest rates.

Making matters tricky for Hong Kong policy makers, local money market remains awash with liquidity thanks to equity market inflows and remnants of money printing from global central banks.

On Thursday, the Hong Kong dollar fell to a new 33-year low of 7.8500 per dollar in the U.S. trading hours, the lower end of the trading band.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the city’s de facto central bank, has pegged the local currency at 7.8 to the U.S. dollar since 1983. Since May 2005, it has been allowed to move between 7.75 and 7.85.

The HKMA has said it would guarantee that the Hong Kong dollar will not weaken past 7.8500, and it will buy Hong Kong dollars and sell U.S. dollars.

The HKMA intervened in the currency markets in 2015, when the stronger side of the band at 7.75 was under threat as the Hong Kong dollar appreciated rapidly.

Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree & Shri Navaratnam

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