China will pursue forex reserves diversification in prudent way

FILE PHOTO: Euro, Hong Kong dollar, U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, pound and Chinese 100 yuan banknotes are seen in this picture illustration, January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Illustration/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will pursue the diversification of its foreign exchange reserves in a steady, prudent way, the country’s foreign exchange regulator said on Sunday as it for the first time released some broad data on its reserve holdings.

China, which has for some years been diversifying its foreign currency investments, gave no details on the exact composition of its forex reserves, still considered a state secret, and the data it did release were some years old.

Of China’s forex reserves in 2014, 58% were held in U.S. dollar-denominated assets, down from 79% in 1995, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said in a report published on its website.

It did not disclose information for years after 2014.

The average annual return rate of China’s foreign exchange reserves was 3.68% between 2005 and 2014, the regulator said, adding China will strengthen its medium- and long-term foreign exchange asset allocation, without elaborating.

China’s more diversified FX reserves will help lower currency risks and reflect changes in China’s economic and trade developments and external payments, Wang Chunying, spokeswoman for the SAFE, said in a separate statement.

Responding to a question on why China is increasing its gold reserves, Wang said China is making adjustments in its holdings in a dynamic way, based on long-term and strategic considerations.

China’s foreign exchange reserves, the world’s largest, rose by $18.23 billion in June to $3.119 trillion, data from the People’s Bank of China showed.

China will also relax currency exchange approval rules for the commodities futures market, the regulator said.

Reporting by Cate Cadell and Kevin Yao; Editing by Sam Holmes and David Holmes