CITIC Bank International and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) Ltd (0349.HK) have completed Hong Kong's first foreign exchange swap for yuan, banking sources said, as China seeks a greater global role for its currency.
The transaction heralds the start of a yuan foreign exchange swap market in Hong Kong, a day after China took a major step toward internationalising its currency by tweaking rules to give companies greater access to yuan funds.
The one-month swap, for 60 million yuan ($8.85 million), was completed on Tuesday, with CITIC International swapping U.S. dollars for yuan while ICBC (Asia) was on the other side of the transaction, one of the sources said.
China's new rules allow corporations to access yuan funds from banks even if they are not involved in trade with the mainland.
This will boost demand for yuan conversion by banking clients and spur banks to secure yuan funds from each other rather than just accessing them from a clearing bank, which would require proof of a trade.
These increased yuan funding needs will also encourage banks in Hong Kong to enter into other yuan-based financial transactions such as interbank lending, analysts said.
The international opening of China's capital account is still expected to be gradual, however, and analysts expect it will take take months or even years for such yuan markets to grow and develop to the point that they handle respectable volumes of business.
The volume of yuan circulating in Hong Kong remains very limited, with yuan deposits in the city totalling only about 84.7 billion yuan in May, up 4.7 percent from April. (Reporting by Karen Yeung and Michelle Chen; Editing by Edmund Klamann)