Chinese credit growth hits record in January amid seasonal surge

Great Wall of China: Google may find it an exceedingly uphill task to recapture the China market.

HONG KONG: China’s credit growth exceeded expectations in January amid a seasonal lending surge at the start of the year.

Aggregate financing was 4.64 trillion yuan (US$685bil) in January, the People’s Bank of China said.

That compares with an estimated 3.3 trillion yuan in a Bloomberg surveyFinancial institutions made a record 3.23 trillion yuan of new loans, versus a projected 3 trillion yuan. That was the most in any month back to at least 1992, when the data began

While the data may relieve some concerns over a deceleration in the world’s second-largest economy, distortions caused by the Lunar New Year holiday timing make it tough to get a definitive read on the health of the broader economy. The government and central bank have been rolling out measures aimed at spurring lending, especially to smaller businesses.

“China has been encouraging credit supply, and the effect of that is showing in January,” said Ding Shuang, chief economist at Standard Chartered Ltd for Greater China & North Asia, adding that the seasonal lending increase at the start of the year also contributed. “The authorities have been tackling the supply side of the credit, and more proactive fiscal policies will help on the demand side.”

China’s 10-year government bond futures erased an advance of as much as 0.32% after the data release, reflecting abating bets on any imminent easing of monetary policy. The contracts were up 0.05% as of 3:15 pm local time.

Policy makers are struggling to arrest the economic downturn with months of targeted stimulus measures.

The central bank has added liquidity through five cuts to the reserve-requirement ratio since early 2018, but hasn’t shifted the more powerful one-year lending rate since 2015.

That’s spurred some economists to bet an interest-rate cut may be coming soon.Broad M2 money supply increased 8.4%. The government announced new policies to help private and small companies get financing this week, including further boosting lending, expediting stock listing reviews and supporting bill financing.

That’s the latest in a raft of policies - including inventing new central bank policy tools -- to relieve the funding pressures faced by those businesses, which are usually less able to access bank loans than bigger, state-owned companies.

That support is also reflected in January’s shadow banking data, which rose for the first time in 11 months. The government has realized the crucial role this plays in supporting smaller, private companies and is not aggressively cracking down on it anymore, said Standard Chartered’s Ding.— Bloomberg

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