The monthly fall in China's hard currency reserves could almost double to around $200 billion in January, bringing Beijing closer to a deeper devaluation of the yuan, one of the western hedge funds betting big against the currency said on Monday.
A plunge in reserves of $108 billion in December was the biggest monthly fall on record and one of the factors spurring a wave of sales of the yuan by Chinese traders and speculative western funds earlier this month.
Chinese reserves have fallen steadily over the past 18 months, from $3.99 trillion in June 2014 to $3.33 trillion in December.
Omni Macro Fund Chief Strategist Chris Morrison said a change in how The People's Bank of China intervenes on the offshore market in the yuan would help push that figure sharply higher this month.
"They are currently reporting zero for the intervention in dollar-CNH, because they have been rolling over the forwards and never actually delivering in U.S. dollars," Morrison said.
"What was interesting in January was they didn't roll over the forwards, so that should be reported and add to the fall in reserves. January's fall will be larger than December's, I'm thinking around $200 billion."
Very few of the hedge funds that have rounded on the yuan as overvalued have been willing to talk about their trading strategies and the details of China's defense of the currency in wholesale financial markets. Omni has been betting against the yuan since the start of 2014.
Morrison, previously a proprietary trader for RBS and JPMorgan, said that after a "good result" from China's sharp one-off devaluation last August, the fund had taken more profit on the trade before a round of strong action by Chinese authorities to stabilize the currency earlier in January.