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Currencies

Hong Kong's $9bn currency defense adds to property market risks

The low borrowing costs that have fueled the boom look set to rise

Defending Hong Kong's dollar peg has become expensive for the territory's monetary authority.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- Financial authorities here have intervened to buy 70.4 billion Hong Kong dollars ($8.96 billion) since April to prop up the currency, in effect tightening monetary policy in an economy particularly sensitive to U.S. interest rate moves.

The currency intervention has ramifications for the low lending rates that have underpinned the territory's housing boom. Next month's widely expected U.S. interest rate hike could prompt commercial banks, which are seeing their funding costs rise, to raise the prime rates that determine how much homebuyers pay for mortgages.

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