Vietnam dong rises strongly in black market, central bank says

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Vietnam's dong has gained "strongly" this month in the so-called black market after "tense signs" the previous month, the central bank said in a statement on its website Thursday.

There have been "almost no transactions at unusual prices" and speculative forces that surfaced in mid-November are no longer evident, the State Bank of Vietnam said. The supply of foreign currency in the banking system is "relatively improved," and companies are prepared to sell dollars to lenders, the statement said.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung last week asked the central bank to stabilize the currency market, as well as gold prices, after the dong's black-market rate reached a discount of about 10 percent to the official level. The bank said the gold market has also gradually stabilized, with the difference between domestic and international prices also narrowing.

The dong was trading at between 21,020 and 21,080 a dollar at money changers in Hanoi this afternoon, having sunk as low as 21,500 last month, according to a telephone information service, known as 1080, run by the state-owned Vietnam Posts & Telecommunication. It traded at 19,498 at banks Thursday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The price of gold dropped to between VND35.57 million and VND35.84 million per tael this afternoon from between 35.81 million and 35.95 million Wednesday, according to 1080. It hit a record high of 38.2 million dong per tael on Nov. 9. One tael is about 1.2 ounces of gold.

Remittances to the country from Vietnamese living abroad are forecast to rise 26 percent to $8 billion this year, with transfers for this month alone expected to total $770 million, the State Bank of Vietnam said in today's statement. The bank forecast this source of foreign exchange will keep climbing in January.

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