US dollar in calm waters

Currency markets contented themselves with some consolidation after Friday’s impressive rally. Major currencies traded sideways with UK markets ignoring the extension of pandemic restrictions. The dollar index was almost unchanged at 90.50, where it remains this morning, with EUR/USD at 1.1215 and GBP/USD at 1.4115.

One notable move was USD/JPY, showing once again its sensitivity to moves in the US yield curve. A rise in US yields overnight saw USD/JPY rise 0.40% to 110.10 overnight, where it remains today. USD/JPY has now moved to the high end of its two-week 109.30 to 110.30 broad range. Further gains from here will depend entirely on whether US yields continue to grind higher into the FOMC. USD/JPY has challenging resistance at 111.00 and does not have the momentum to test this level seriously.

USD/Asia has moved slightly higher today after the return of China from holiday saw the PBOC fixing set at 6.4070, slightly weaker than expected versus the US dollar. With the PBOC tightening liquidity today, USD/CNY remains below the fixing at 6.4045, almost unchanged for the session.

There are reports of potential problems with a French-designed nuclear power plant located in Taishan, located west of the Pearl River Delta and just 140 km from Hong Kong. There are fears of a leak at the plant, and the Biden administration has been in contact with French and Chinese officials about the issue.

The evolution of the Taishan nuclear story, if negative, is most likely to weigh on the offshore yuan, USD/CNH, although I expect the PBOC will be out “smoothing” if markets nerve fray.

Overall, currency markets are calm, and I expect US dollar shorts to continue reducing into the FOMC. The Australian and New Zealand dollars are the most vulnerable amongst the major currencies, so we could see some volatility ahead of the FOMC meeting on Wednesday.

China Is Now Paying Xiong’an Builders Using Digital Yuan

China has accelerated its developments and advancements in the blockchain space and has been vocal about the technology. The country is gradually rolling out its central bank digital currency (CBDC), the digital yuan, and it is also on the right track to roll out the first-ever government-issued digital currency for the masses.

Recent reports indicate that China has advanced in piloting the digital yuan in the Xion’an New Area. This district serves as a testing lab for new economic ideas and is located almost 60 miles southwest of Beijing. The builders are now receiving their wages in digital yuans.

In a June 12 statement, the Xiong’an government mentioned that the digital yuan pilot is the nation’s first “on-chain” payment solution that is being used to pay wages to builders. This government also said that the project is conducted in collaboration with the development bureau of Xoin’an’s management committee together with the Shijiazhuang branch of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).

Based on the official announcement, the Blockchain Fund Payment Platform is being utilized by the region to pay the wages. China has done several tests of its CBDC in various regions in the last months. Notably, it is now putting everything in place to prepare for the full take-off of the project that is backed by global financial regulators.

The People’s Bank of China has also been significantly active with many pilot projects in many regions, in conjunction with commercial banks and payment providers.

China Believes In Blockchain, Not Crypto

It is not a secret that the Asian country has embraced blockchain, as it encourages more adoption of the nascent technology. But, Bitcoin, a product of the same technology, has received severe opposition and disapproval from the government. In May, China banned bitcoin mining, which forced most of the miners in the country to relocate.

Beijing cited bitcoin as an enabler of money laundering and also criticized the extreme consumption and use of ‘bad energy’ as the main reason for the blanket ban. While some analysts and observers believe these reasons, others are convinced that China is just trying to create a way for the mass adoption of its CBDC when the pilot phase is concluded.