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Evergrande nerves weigh on offshore yuan, dollar edges up on safety bid

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·4-min read
FILE PHOTO: A U.S. dollar banknote is seen in this illustration taken May 26, 2020.
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(Updates prices, adds Wells Fargo forecast)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The offshore Chinese yuan weakened versus the greenback to its lowest level in nearly a month on Monday, as worries about the repercussions from property developer Evergrande's solvency issues spooked financial markets and lifted safe-haven currencies.

Market sentiment has been rattled by the potential contagion from Evergrande, which is trying to raise funds to pay a host of lenders, suppliers and investors. A deadline for an $83.5 million interest payment on one of its bonds is due on Thursday, and the company has $305 billion in liabilities.

On Thursday, the yuan strengthened to its highest level in three months at 6.4226 per dollar before starting to reverse as Evergrande's woes worsened. The move sharpened on Monday after warnings from Chinese regulators that the company's insolvency could fuel broader risks in the country's financial system if not stabilized.

Analysts at Wells Fargo said on Monday they expect the dollar to reach 6.60 per yuan within the next month. The offshore Chinese yuan last weakened versus the greenback at 6.4839 per dollar.

"We are seeing a classic flight to safety in the dollar until we get some sense of clarity on whether or not it is going to be an orderly or disorderly resolution to Evergrande," said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington DC.

"We were likely to see a continuation of the decline we’ve seen in risk assets going into this week and you throw in Evergrande and it has really unsettled the markets."

The dollar and other safe-haven currencies such as the yen and Swiss franc gained with the risk-off sentiment, which saw Wall Street's S&P 500 index on pace for its biggest one-day percentage drop 11 months.

The dollar index rose 0.025%, with the euro unchanged at $1.1725.

The dollar has also been gaining ground on expectations the Federal Reserve will begin reducing its monthly bond purchases this year, with the central bank's policy announcement due on Wednesday.

Aside from the Fed, multiple central banks around the globe will hold policy meetings this week, including those of Sweden, England, and Norway.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.58% versus the greenback at 109.32 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.3656, down 0.63% on the day.

The Canadian dollar, also a commodity currency that correlates with risk sentiment, weakened to as low as C$1.2895 per dollar, its lowest level in four weeks. It last fell 0.42% versus the greenback at C$1.28 per dollar.

Polling for Monday's national election in Canada points to an advantage for incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but he is unlikely to gain a parliamentary majority.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin last fell 7.76% to $43,577.67.

========================================================

Currency bid prices at 2:52PM (1852 GMT)

Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid

Previous Change

Session

Dollar index

93.2330 93.2230 +0.03% 3.614% +93.4550 +93.1850

Euro/Dollar

$1.1727 $1.1726 +0.01% -4.02% +$1.1737 +$1.1700

Dollar/Yen

109.3350 109.9800 -0.58% +5.82% +110.0350 +109.3250

Euro/Yen

128.20 128.94 -0.57% +1.01% +129.0300 +128.1500

Dollar/Swiss

0.9276 0.9325 -0.51% +4.85% +0.9333 +0.9271

Sterling/Dollar

$1.3655 $1.3727 -0.52% -0.05% +$1.3740 +$1.3640

Dollar/Canadian

1.2820 1.2768 +0.42% +0.68% +1.2895 +1.2762

Aussie/Dollar

$0.7243 $0.7263 -0.28% -5.84% +$0.7268 +$0.7221

Euro/Swiss

1.0878 1.0927 -0.45% +0.66% +1.0935 +1.0876

Euro/Sterling

0.8587 0.8535 +0.61% -3.92% +0.8594 +0.8533

NZ

Dollar/Dollar $0.7022 $0.7035 -0.26% -2.28% +$0.7042 +$0.7006

Dollar/Norway

8.7395 8.7120 +0.28% +1.74% +8.7805 +8.7105

Euro/Norway

10.2500 10.2008 +0.48% -2.07% +10.2815 +10.1995

Dollar/Sweden

8.6963 8.6787 +0.18% +6.10% +8.7459 +8.6644

Euro/Sweden

10.1986 10.1804 +0.18% +1.21% +10.2336 +10.1755

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Cynthia Osterman)

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