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Yuan slides to 11-year low as trade war rattles investor confidence

LONDON: China’s yuan fell to an 11-year low in the onshore market and a record low offshore on Monday after the latest escalation in the US-China trade war rattled investor confidence.

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President Trump announced an additional 5% duty on $550 billion in targeted Chinese goods on Friday, hours after Beijing unveiled retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of US products, sending stocks into a tailspin and investors rushing for the safety of bond markets.

On Monday Trump , limit the fallout and smooth tensions, helping the yuan come off its lows and the dollar recover against the Japanese yen. The US president said China had contacted US trade officials to say they wanted to return to the negotiating table. Beijing called for calm.

In China’s onshore market, the yuan fell to 7.1500 per dollar, the lowest since February 2008. In the offshore market, the yuan slid to as low as 7.187 yuan, the weakest since international trading in the currency began in 2010, before recovering to 7.1524 yuan – down 0.2% on the day – after Trump’s upbeat comments.

In a sign that some calm had returned to markets, the Japanese yen – which investors regard as a safe haven – fell 0.5% to 105.86 to a dollar, having earlier hit a new seven-month high of 104.46.

Commerzbank analysts said “market sentiment has been undoubtedly hit hard as there is an even lower chance of a trade truce in the foreseeable future.” They said China could let the yuan “depreciate further to ease the tariff pains and somehow weaponize the currency to anger Trump.”

Although they added that China would be reluctant to allow any uncontrollable currency depreciation given it would spur capital outflows and a massive hit to investors’ confidence.

Where, the dollar rebounded and was last up 0.3% against a basket of currencies. Versus the euro it rose 0.2% to $1.1117.

“The market is beginning to wonder if Trump isn’t shooting himself and the US economy in the foot with his endless trade war,” said Marshall Gittler, a strategist at ACLS Global .

The Australian dollar, a liquid proxy for global risk sentiment, earlier fell to $0.6690, within a whisker of a recent decade low of $0.66775, before recovering to $0.6766, up 0.2% on the day.

The Turkish lira weakened more than 1% against the dollar on Monday after briefly plunging to 6.47 in what market watchers described as a “flash crash” as Japanese investors slashed their exposure to riskier assets. The lira was last down 1% at 5.8181.

The New Zealand dollar slipped 0.2% to $0.6380 after earlier sliding to a level not seen since 2015. Sterling fell 0.3% to $1.2239 as investors waited for next developments in Britain’s bid to get the European Union to renegotiate its Brexit withdrawal agreement.

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