Feb 23, 2013

Vietnam - Gold, dollar prices dance after Tet holiday

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VietNamNet Bridge – The dollar price has been fluctuating so heavily since the market re-opening after the Tet holiday. However, experts believe that this does not mean the start of the dong depreciation wave.

The greenback has unexpectedly appreciated against the dong after a long stabilization period

On February 19 morning, the dollar prices in the black market in Hanoi hovered around VND20,930-20,990 per dollar (buy and sale). The price level was VND90 per dollar higher than that of the day before, but represents a VND110-120 per dollar increase in comparison with pre-Tet days.

The upward tendency of the dollar price seems to be firm with the dollar price on the afternoon of the day rising to VND21,010 dong per dollar.

Commercial banks have also adjusted their dong/dollar exchange rates after two years of keeping it unchanged. Vietcombank, for example, quoted the dollar price at VND20,830 per dollar on February 18, the first post-Tet working day, or VND30 per dollar higher than the previous exchange rate. The dollar price quoted by the bank then rose by VND10-30 per dollar the next day.

With the latest adjustments, the exchange rate in the black market is VND100-115 per dollar higher than the bank-to-business market. This is really a big gap in the dollar prices in the two markets, if noting that the gap was just VND10-25 per dollar on pre-Tet days.

The noteworthy thing was that the dollar unexpected increased even though the interbank exchange rate announced by the State Bank had been stable at VND20,828 per dollar at least until the end of February 19.

The dollar price increases have not frightened people at all as forecast. The appreciation of the greenback has been explained by the high demand at the moment from a group of clients who need dollar to remit to their children who are studying overseas.

“When the dollar price hit the VND20,900 per dollar threshold, banks have rushed to sell dollars, thus making the dollar price come back to the VND20,880 dong per dollar,” a senior official of the State Bank said on Thoi bao Kinh te Vietnam on February 20.

The senior officials’ words could be understood that banks rushed to sell dollars as soon as they saw the opportunities to earn money when the dollar price goes to the price level high enough. The move of selling dollars by banks showed that their dollar positions remain stable and they don’t lack dollars at all and don’t need to step up the dollar purchase at this moment.

The above said senior official of the State Bank affirmed that though the dollar price has increased slightly, but in general, the demand and supply remain stable and that the situation is not so bad that needs the intervention by the Sate Bank.

Currently, commercial banks can set up their dollar price at up to VND21,036. However, in fact, the exchange rates quoted by banks are still far below the ceiling level.

There is another reason which might have influenced the dong/dollar exchange rate these days: the dong supply has become more profuse.

Thoi bao Kinh te Vietnam has reported that the dong was once in short in the first month of the year (the dong supply reduced by 0.53 percent in January in comparison with the end of 2012) due to the high demand for making payment, has become profuse again.

By February 7, or until the Tet holiday, the dong capital mobilized by the banking system had increased slightly by 0.17 percent in comparison with the end of 2012, but had increased more sharply by 1.2 percent by February 18.

Vu Phong

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