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Global economic trend monitored
January 20, 2016
Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Prof KC Chan said the uncertainty over the US interest rate normalisation is a major challenge facing the global economy this year, impacting on the already fragile economic environment.
He said any further strengthening of the US dollar may exert downward pressures on Hong Kong's exports and inbound tourism.
Prof Chan told lawmakers today the Government will closely monitor developments and their impact on the overall economy and employment, and the Financial Secretary will announce in his 2016-17 Budget next month the economic growth forecast for this year.
Prof Chan said the Government has no intention to withdraw the demand-side management measures of the property market, because property prices remain at levels beyond the affordability of the general public.
The home purchase affordability ratio rose to about 64% in the third quarter of 2015, remarkably higher than the long-term average of 46% from 1995 to 2014.
The Government will closely monitor property market movements and the ever-changing external conditions, with reference to a series of indicators.
In terms of fund flows, the US Federal Reserve's interest rate hikes will widen the Hong Kong dollar-US dollar interest rate spreads. As capital gradually flows from the Hong Kong dollar to the US dollar, the Hong Kong dollar exchange rate will weaken against the US dollar, Prof Chan said.
Upon the triggering of the weak-side Convertibility Undertaking at 7.85 under the established mechanism, the Monetary Authority will sell US dollars for Hong Kong dollars. Hong Kong dollar outflows following the triggering of the weak-side Convertibility Undertaking, and the subsequent contraction of the Hong Kong dollar monetary base, will set the inevitable course for the Hong Kong dollar's interest rate to normalise alongside US dollar interest rates.
With strong economic fundamentals, and a mature and robust financial system, Hong Kong is capable of withstanding capital flows. The Government will keep a close watch on the external financial conditions and ensure the normal functioning of Hong Kong's financial system, against any systemic risk in the financial markets.
In light of an array of external and other uncertainties, investors and the financial sectors should conduct proper risk management and act with prudence and vigilance, he added.