(Updates prices, adds Wells Fargo forecast)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK : 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 US$83.5 million interest payment on one of its bonds is due on Thursday, and the company has US$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 0.025per cent, with the euro unchanged at US$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 0.58per cent versus the greenback at 109.32 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at US$1.3656, down 0.63per cent on the day.
The Canadian dollar, also a commodity currency that correlates with risk sentiment, weakened to as low as CUS$1.2895 per dollar, its lowest level in four weeks. It last fell 0.42per cent versus the greenback at CUS$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 7.76per cent to US$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
93.2330 93.2230 +0.03per cent 3.614per cent +93.4550 +93.1850
US$1.1727 US$1.1726 +0.01per cent -4.02per cent +US$1.1737 +US$1.1700
109.3350 109.9800 -0.58per cent +5.82per cent +110.0350 +109.3250
128.20 128.94 -0.57per cent +1.01per cent +129.0300 +128.1500
0.9276 0.9325 -0.51per cent +4.85per cent +0.9333 +0.9271
US$1.3655 US$1.3727 -0.52per cent -0.05per cent +US$1.3740 +US$1.3640
1.2820 1.2768 +0.42per cent +0.68per cent +1.2895 +1.2762
US$0.7243 US$0.7263 -0.28per cent -5.84per cent +US$0.7268 +US$0.7221
1.0878 1.0927 -0.45per cent +0.66per cent +1.0935 +1.0876
0.8587 0.8535 +0.61per cent -3.92per cent +0.8594 +0.8533
Dollar/Dollar US$0.7022 US$0.7035 -0.26per cent -2.28per cent +US$0.7042 +US$0.7006
8.7395 8.7120 +0.28per cent +1.74per cent +8.7805 +8.7105
10.2500 10.2008 +0.48per cent -2.07per cent +10.2815 +10.1995
8.6963 8.6787 +0.18per cent +6.10per cent +8.7459 +8.6644
10.1986 10.1804 +0.18per cent +1.21per cent +10.2336 +10.1755
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Cynthia Osterman)