By Francesco Canepa and Balazs Koranyi

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – There is reluctance among European Central Bank policymakers to follow the U.S. Federal Reserve’s move to target an average inflation rate, fearing this could tie their hands, sources involved in a revamp of ECB policy told Reuters.

The four central bank sources, including members of both the hawkish and dovish wings of the ECB’s policymaking governing council, also expressed doubts about whether orthodox inflation theory still applied in economies where prices have long stagnated despite interest rates close to or below zero.

After missing its goal of keeping inflation “below but close to 2%” for a decade, the ECB is reviewing its strategy in the wake of a similar review by the Fed and just as a pandemic-induced recession is pushing euro zone inflation into negative territory.

The euro zone’s central bank has been expected to follow the Fed, which said in August it would aim for 2% average inflation over an unspecified period, so that periods when prices grow too slowly need to be compensated by times of faster increases – and vice versa.

But the policymakers who spoke to Reuters feared that going down this route risked encouraging financial markets to jump to the wrong conclusions about future policy decisions based simply on where the average happened to be at a given point in time.

Instead, they wanted to retain the flexibility to judge each situation on its own merits, for instance by playing down the significance of temporary changes in inflation due to swings in the price of oil.

“We want flexibility so an average target would not really give us a benefit,” one of the sources said.

An ECB spokesman declined to comment.

With euro zone inflation averaging 1.3% over the past decade and currently negative, they

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s move to cool a rising yuan stands little chance of stopping further gains, international banks say, as the strength of the world’s number two economy and a near-record yield advantage drive big and steady inflows.

Over the weekend, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) scrapped a requirement for banks to hold a reserve of yuan forward contracts, removing a guard against depreciation and sending the currency down 1% for its steepest drop since March.

Yet an identical move three years ago ultimately proved ineffective, and investors say this time the conditions are even more likely to buoy the yuan, perhaps as far as 6.5 per dollar.

“In all previous instances, the impact of the regulatory change was temporary,” said Eugenia Victorino, head of Asia strategy at Swedish bank SEB in Singapore.

“We continue to expect the yuan to remain on an appreciation trend, with USD/CNY approaching 6.60 by end-2021,” she said.

Goldman Sachs forecasts yuan, last quoted at 6.7436

, will hit 6.5 per dollar in 12 months.
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Much as in 2017, the PBOC’s move follows a long spell of appreciation. The yuan has strengthened more than 6% since late May and just closed its best quarter in a dozen years as China leads the world out of the coronavirus pandemic and soaks up capital flows.

Foreign holdings of Chinese government debt rose at the fastest pace in more than two years last month, with the spread between Chinese

and U.S. 10-year

government bond yields holding near record highs scaled in July. In another nudge for the yuan to weaken, Beijing granted $3.4 billion in outbound investment quotas last month, the first fresh permission for such flows since April 2019.
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Yet analysts say China’s economy, projected to keep growing as the rest of