China's central bank is considering setting up new investment funds to diversify holdings in the country's swelling foreign exchange reserves, the world's largest stockpile, local media reported on Monday.
The proposed funds include one or more to invest a part of China's foreign reserves in energy and precious metal markets and another that could intervene in foreign exchange markets, the New Century Weekly said, citing sources close to the central bank.
China's foreign exchange reserves surged to $3.05 trillion in the first quarter, heightening long-standing worries about how China can effectively manage the holdings and not become overly exposed to the U.S. dollar.
The report left many questions unanswered, including the size of any such fund and the timing of their possible launch. It also did not say why new funds were needed when China already has a sovereign wealth fund, the China Investment Corp (CIC).
CIC was established in 2007 and was entirely funded from foreign exchange reserves.
The $300 billion fund falls under the finance ministry, while the bulk of China's foreign exchange reserves are managed by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, an arm of the People's Bank of China, and operates with a conservative investment mandate.
The report said the central bank was considering a fund that could intervene in the foreign exchange market in an effort to stabilize exchange rates on behalf of the central bank.
"The central bank is also considering setting up a fund that will directly buy foreign exchange in the market so that the central bank does not create base money," the magazine said, citing a source close to the central bank.
It did not elaborate on the plans, but said the central bank aimed to transfer some reserves off the central bank's balance sheet to the new "intervention fund."
To prevent the yuan from rising too fast and too far, China's central bank has been an avid buyer of dollars generated by China's exports.
These huge and regular purchases are a crucial driver of the build-up in China's reserves and in turn have skewed the central bank's balance sheet.
To diversify investment of the reserves, Chinese officials and economists have urged the government to buy more of other currencies such as the euro and the yen, as well as commodities including oil and gold.
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