KUALA LUMPUR: Moody’s Investors Service expects Chinese banks' asset quality and capitalisation will be stable over the next 12 to 18 months as the economy continues to recover.
In its in-depth report on Monday, the rating agency said statistics revealed by the People's Bank of China (PBOC) and China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) are in line with its view
“A new regulation published on June 9 requires financial institutions to have recovery and resolution plans, is a credit positive, ” it said in its report entitled “Banks – China Quarterly: Asset quality and capitalisation continue to stabilise as the economy rebounds”.
However, Moody’s said asset risks remain high despite lower problem loan ratios.
It pointed out economic uncertainties will stay high post-pandemic because the current structural adjustment of the Chinese economy will continue to lead to high nonperforming loan (NPL) formation and credit costs.
“However, the impact on headline asset metrics will be muted because of banks’ disposal of bad debts using substantial amounts of loan loss reserves, which were 187.1% of NPLs at the end of the first quarter.
“Asset growth is likely to slow in 2021 as the economic recovery lessens the need for extraordinary bank credit support.
“Profitability will bottom over the next 12 to 18 months to reflect gradually normalizing monetary policy and increasingly broad-based economic recovery, ” it said.
Moody’s said net interest margins (NIMs) in the first quarter narrowed only three basis points from a year ago as loan rates and market funding rates stabilised even as lower fees continued to pressure banks' noninterest income.
On a more upbeat note, it said credit costs are likely to stabilise at a high level because of high, but stable, asset risks.
“Capitalisation will start to recover, supported by the slower risk-weighted asset growth because of slower corporate loan growth.
“Risk-weighted assets at the end of the first quarter grew 9.4% from a year ago, compared with 9.7% in full year 2020. The shift of the loan mix to retail loans will reduce capital intensity. Bottoming profitability will also support banks' ability to generate internal capital through retained earnings, ” it said.
Moody’s also pointed out System liquidity remains balanced. The PBOC has steadily returned to a neutral monetary policy stance while it remains ready to accommodate temporary volatility in the market's liquidity needs. This is reflected in its injection of just 200bil renminbi (US$31bil) in net liquidity through the Medium-term Lending Facility (MLF) in the first quarter, down from 1.05 trillion renminbi in the previous quarter.
“While Chinese authorities will continue to stabilize the broad economy's leverage ratio, it will also guide credits toward regions with slow financing growth but improving financial conditions, ” it noted.