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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Chinese policymakers are now taking aim at currency controls that have kept the renminbi from weakening in recent years as the currency has rallied to its strongest level against the dollar in years and the country attempts to attract more outside capital.

What's happening: Chinese banks have stopped using the counter-cyclical factor recently, which means Beijing will give up some influence over the exchange rate, Bloomberg reports, citing the website of the China Foreign Exchange Trade System.

  • The change allows lenders more room to submit quotes for a weaker fixing and guide the currency lower in the spot market.

What it means: China's central bank "fixes" the renminbi at a certain level every day that keeps the currency's value from moving by more than 2% above or below that level.

  • The change follows the central bank's decision earlier this month to make it cheaper for bankers to short, or bet that the renminbi would fall in value.

Why it matters: Dropping the counter-cyclical factor “is the strongest tool other than direct intervention in the market that the PBOC has to change the value of the currency,” Dariusz Kowalczyk, senior emerging-markets strategist at Credit Agricole CIB, tells Bloomberg.

Yes, but: China previously suspended the counter-cyclical factor in 2018 only to reinstate it when trade tensions with the U.S. ramped up and its currency began to weaken again.

Go deeper

China sanctions top Trump alumni one day after Uyghur genocide determination

Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

China's Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday it would sanction 28 "anti-China" U.S. politicians, including a slew of top officials from the outgoing Trump administration such as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former national security adviser John Bolton and former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Between the lines, via Axios China expert Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: Chinese government officials have traditionally decried the use of unilateral sanctions by Western countries, even though China regularly blocks foreign companies and individuals from its markets for perceived political slights.

Updated 5 mins ago - Sports

MLB headed for first lockout since '95 as deal expires

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred (L) and Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark. Photo: Matt King/MLB via Getty Images

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday without a new deal in place.

Why it matters: With no CBA, the MLB is in a management lockout — the first work stoppage since a 1994-95 strike led to the cancelation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.

Media giants back Bannon's bid to release Jan. 6 documents

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon at the FBI Washington Field Office in Washington, DC., in November. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A coalition of news outlets including the Washington Post is supporting Stephen Bannon's campaign for the release of documents related to his contempt of Congress charges, WashPost confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: WashPost, the New York Times, CNN, NBC, the Wall Street Journal's parent company and others filed a motion arguing that a proposed protective order seeking to prevent the documents from being released violates the First Amendment, per the Daily Mail, which first reported on the news.