Global investment banks project jump in yuan in 2023
SHANGHAI, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Global investment banks have raised their forecasts for the Chinese yuan this year on expectations the country's economic reopening and Beijing's decision to relax property sector curbs will trigger strong capital inflows.
The bullish forecasts follow Beijing's exit from a crippling zero-COVID strategy in early December and reversion to pro-growth policies to restore investor confidence and prioritise domestic demand.
"China's reopening and visible policy shift toward the property sector has lifted the yuan's outlook, and there could be more upside in the medium term," said Lemon Zhang, FX strategist at Barclays.
On average, the forecasts are for the yuan to end 2023 at 6.5 per dollar, a 3.6% rise from current levels. It has already surged more than 7% from the trough hit in late November to 6.7497 per dollar on Wednesday, up about 2.2% year-to-date.
If it ends 2023 at 6.5, the yuan will be up 6.15% for the year, the best gains since 2020.
COVID-induced disruptions and the Federal Reserve's rate rises have pressured the yuan , driving it down roughly 8% against the dollar last year, its worst annual performance since 1994.
The International Monetary Fund has revised China's growth outlook sharply higher for 2023 to 5.2%, from 4.4% it forecast in October.
Other investment houses including Goldman Sachs, HSBC, UBS and Standard Chartered also projected a stronger yuan.
"While asset markets have already priced in a meaningful improvement, we expect reopening to continue to lift Chinese asset prices, with the most upside in equities and credit," analysts at Goldman Sachs said in a note.
They forecast the yuan at 6.5 per dollar by the end of this year, compared with 6.9 previously.
Persistent capital inflows into China's A shares - stocks of Chinese companies that trade on domestic exchanges - are also supporting the yuan, and Citic Securities expects foreigners to purchase 200 billion to 300 billion yuan ($44.46 billion) worth of Chinese stocks this year.
Improving confidence has also helped extend gains in China's new home prices in January, a private survey showed on Wednesday.
In a previous Reuters survey conducted in November, analysts had predicted the Chinese currency will finish 2023 around 7 per dollar.
Still, analysts also reckon Beijing will try to limit yuan gains, given worries about a possible U.S. recession hurting Chinese exports.
Here is a summary of some forecasts for the Chinese currency (previous forecasts in brackets):
($1 = 6.7470 Chinese yuan)
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