Japan stocks set to trade lower; investors watch Chinese yuan following central bank moves

SINGAPORE — Stocks in Japan were set to trade lower at the open, as investors watch movements in the Chinese yuan.Futures pointed to a lower open for stocks in Japan. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 23,600 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 23,560. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 23,619.69.Meanwhile, shares in Australia were lower in early trade, with the S&P/ASX 200 down about 0.1%.Chinese yuan watchMovements in the Chinese yuan are set to be watched by investors on Monday, after the People’s Bank of China announced a rule change that made it cheaper to short the yuan.The central bank announced Saturday that financial institutions now no longer need to set aside cash when conducting some foreign exchange forwards trading, with effect from Monday. Under current rules, financial institutions must set aside 20% of the previous month’s yuan forwards settlement amount as foreign exchange risk reserves, according to Reuters.The offshore yuan last traded more than 0.6% weaker against the greenback, at 6.7323 per dollar, after strengthening for the last few months.National Australia Bank’s Tapas Strickland said the moves in the yuan were likely driven by the rule change “which makes it less expensive to short the (Chinese yuan) and signals less (concern) about currency weakness.”CurrenciesThe U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.091 following a recent slide from levels above 93.3.The Japanese yen traded at 105.62 per dollar after strengthening from levels above 105.9 against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7227 after rising from about $0.71 last week.

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