China's yuan weakened slightly on Thursday, while the dollar held broadly steady, as minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting reinforced the message that the central bank is in no hurry to deliver on rate cuts. Traders said the minutes didn't provide much surprise and guidance for the market, and they are awaiting more economic data from the U.S. as well as policy direction from China in the annual parliamentary meeting in March.

Prior to the market opening, the People's Bank of China set the midpoint rate, around which the yuan is allowed to trade in a 2% band, at 7.1018 per U.S. dollar prior to market open, firmer than the previous fix 7.103. The central bank continued its months-long practice of setting the official guidance at levels firmer than market projections, widely viewed by traders as an attempt to keep the currency stable.

In the spot market, the onshore yuan opened at 7.1860 per dollar and was changing hands at 7.1934 at midday, 29 pips weaker from the previous late session close. Still, the onshore and offshore yuan held steady around the 7.19/7.20 area, underpinned by Beijing's property stimulus and measures to support the stock market, said Ken Cheung, chief Asian FX strategist at Mizuho.

The bulk of policymakers at the Federal Reserve's last meeting were concerned about the risks of cutting interest rates too soon, with broad uncertainty about how long borrowing costs should remain at their current level, according to the minutes of the Jan. 30-31 session. "This implies the possibility that they may not hesitate to keep rates higher for longer if need be," said Maybank analysts in a note.

Traders will be on watch for a stream of business activity surveys, including Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) figures across the U.S., the UK and the euro zone due later in the day, to gauge the health of major economies and what that may mean for the global interest rate outlook.

In China, the focus will shift towards the annual National People's Congress in early March. "At the end of the day, stronger policy action to support the underlying economy may still be required to lift overall sentiment," Maybank analysts said. The global dollar index fell to 103.93 from the previous close of 104.006.

The offshore yuan was trading at 7.2018 per dollar. The yuan market at 4:36AM GMT: ONSHORE SPOT: Item Current Previous Change PBOC midpoint 7.103 0.02% 7.1018 Spot yuan -0.04% 7.1934 7.1905 Divergence from midpoint* 1.29% Spot change YTD -1.33% Spot change since 2005 revaluation 15.06% Key indexes: Item Current Previous Change Thomson Reuters/HKEX 0.0 CNH index Dollar index 103.93 -0.1 104.006 *Divergence of the dollar/yuan exchange rate. Negative number indicates that spot yuan is trading stronger than the midpoint.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) allows the exchange rate to rise or fall 2% from official midpoint rate it sets each morning. OFFSHORE CNH MARKET Instrument Current Difference from onshore Offshore spot yuan * -0.12% 7.2018 Offshore non-deliverable 7.002 1.43% forwards ** *Premium for offshore spot over onshore **Figure reflects difference from PBOC's official midpoint, since non-deliverable forwards are settled against the midpoint. . (Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Sonali Paul)