China central bank vows faster FX reform; IPO hopes tempered

Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:07am EST
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By Aileen Wang and Kevin Yao

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's officials indicated on Tuesday how they plan to steer reforms on interest rates, the currency and stock markets, following a top-level party meeting that promised sweeping changes over the next decade.

Following up on that, central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan vowed to quicken the process of full yuan convertibility, which would allow the free movement of capital across China's borders and which is a demand of many of the country's major trading partners.

Meanwhile, the top securities regulator sought to temper expectations the government could open the taps on initial public offerings (IPOs). A 60-point reform document issued on Friday had promised to "push forward stock issuance registration system reform" - a phrase previously used to refer to the listing process.

The reforms unveiled by China's leaders were seen as the boldest in nearly three decades as they try to put the world's second-largest economy on a more stable footing after years of breakneck expansion.

Zhou's comments were released as part of a public guide book to the reforms, which was on sale in bookshops for 30 yuan ($5). At more than 300 pages, it provides the full text of the Communist Party's decisions on its reform plan and includes an explanation of the changes by President Xi Jinping. It also includes articles by top officials, such as Zhou.

The central bank governor promised on Saturday to "pull out all stops to deepen financial sector reforms".

In the guide book, he was quoted as saying the central bank would gradually expand the yuan's trading band to help make the currency more flexible and market-driven - comments that repeat a long-standing central bank position.

"We will widen the floating range of the yuan exchange rate in an orderly manner and increase the two-way flexibility of the currency," Zhou was quoted as saying.   Continued...

A woman talks on the phone as she walks along an elevated walkway in downtown Shanghai, November 18, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria