SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's yuan firmed against the dollar on Thursday after the central bank set a 15-month high midpoint, echoing the authorities' recent pledge to keep the currency steady amid the current economic downward pressure, traders said.
The People's Bank of China (PBOC) set the midpoint rate (CNY=SAEC) at 6.1093 per dollar prior to market open, the highest level since Feb. 18, 2014, and 0.05 percent firmer than the previous fix at 6.1123.
The spot market (CNY=CFXS) opened at 6.1997 per dollar and was changing hands at 6.2017 around midday, 0.04 percent stronger than the previous close.
Analysts broadly forecast the yuan was likely to follow Beijing's guidance to remain stable in the short term despite the latest round of economic data shows that China's economic performance continues to be disappointing.
For instance, Chinese banks made 707.9 billion yuan (72 billion pound) worth of new loans in April, much less than expected, as slowing earnings growth and rising bad loans made lenders more cautious despite government calls to help support the economy, data published on Wednesday showed.
The offshore yuan was trading 0.01 percent firmer from the onshore spot at 6.2012 per dollar.
(Reporting by the Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Kim Coghill)