China central bank's net FX sales fall to nearly two-year low in April

BEIJING (Reuters) - Net foreign exchange sales by China’s central bank fell to the lowest in nearly two years in April as capital outflows eased in the face of strict regulatory curbs and a pause in the dollar’s rally.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) sold a net 42 billion yuan ($6.09 billion) worth of foreign exchange in April, down from 54.7 billion yuan in March, according to Reuters calculations based on central bank data released on Monday.

The last time the central bank sold less foreign exchange was in June 2015, before a surprise one-off devaluation of the yuan in August of that year, when net sales were 17.3 billion yuan.

Capital outflows from China eased sharply in the first quarter and cross border flows were more balanced, the foreign exchange regulator said in April.

The yuan CNY=CFXS has steadied this year after falling 6.5 percent in 2016 - the biggest annual drop since 1994.

Earlier data showed China’s foreign exchange reserves edged up by $21 billion in April to $3.03 trillion, compared with an increase of $3.96 billion in March. Reserves have now risen for three months in a row.

As the yuan has steadied and outflow pressures ease, China’s central bank has relaxed some of the curbs on funds leaving the country, Reuters reported last month citing sources.

But many analysts still expect the yuan to fall this year.

($1 = 6.8974 Chinese yuan)

Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk and Elias Glenn; Editing by Jacqueline Wong