Hong Kong Dollar Drops Most Since June After Ant Closes Books


© Reuters.

(Bloomberg) — The Hong Kong dollar moved away from the strong end of its trading band for the first time since Ant Group Co.’s initial public offering was mooted two months ago.

The currency declined as much 0.05%, the most since June 16, to 7.7536 versus the greenback. Ant has stopped taking orders from big investors after strong demand for its Hong Kong shares. The IPO had spurred inflows into the city in recent months, prompting repeated interventions from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to stop the currency from strengthening past the limit of its band against the greenback.

The local currency may weaken to 7.7550 after Ant starts trading, said Tommy Ong, managing director for treasury and markets at DBS Hong Kong Ltd. “It’s inevitable that some capital would leave Hong Kong after Ant’s subscription for institutional investors finished,” he said.

Large-scale capital flight is unlikely, said Ong, because demand for Ant’s shares and future listings by other Chinese companies should support demand for the Hong Kong dollar, he said.

The local currency strength comes at a time when the city’s economy has been pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic. The unemployment rate has climbed to a 15-year high.

Short-term interbank rates fell, with the one-week Hong Kong dollar lending rate known as Hibor retreating 15 basis points, the most since August, to 0.48411%.

The HKMA has sold a total of HK$383.5 billion ($49.5 billion) of local dollars since April to defend its foreign-exchange peg. These moves have boosted the interbank liquidity pool to the largest level on record.

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