In a stunning move, China has suspended some banks from Foreign Exchange markets and ordered other banks to stop buying Dollars.
China’s foreign exchange regulator has ordered banks in some of the country’s major import and export centers to limit purchases of U.S. dollars this month, three people with direct knowledge said, in the latest attempt to stem capital outflows.
The move comes as China reported its biggest annual drop in foreign exchange reserves on record in 2015, while the central bank has allowed a sharp slide in the Yuan currency to multi-year lows, raising fears of more capital flight.
All banks in certain trading hubs, including Shenzhen, received the order recently, the people added. They declined to be identified because they are not allowed to speak to the media.
The total amount of U.S. dollars sold to clients in January for a bank in one of these hubs cannot exceed the amount sold in December, according to the people.
All banks in certain trading hubs, including Shenzhen, received the regulator’s order recently, the sources added. They declined to be identified because they are not allowed to speak to the media.
“It will have some impact, because it is a form of control, but at the moment the limit doesn’t seem very restrictive so unless they extend the period of the limit, it’s unlikely to change volumes over the whole year,” said a senior banker in the foreign exchange department of a foreign bank. “It’s just to stop panic buying this month,” the banker added.
China is ratcheting up ad hoc capital controls to stem accelerating capital outflows, with banks restricting dollar purchases amid fierce demand from households and companies.
The foreign exchange regulator has provided verbal guidance to banks in Shenzhen instructing them to limit dollar buying by individual and corporate clients, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
The official Shanghai Securities News cited client managers at banks in Shenzhen including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China as saying that demand for US and Hong Kong dollars had increased sharply since the start of the year. Chinese residents are permitted to buy up to $50,000 annually, with the quota resetting at the beginning of the calendar year.
“They’re focused on Shenzhen and Shanghai because that’s where demand has really spiked,” said the person.
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