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China’s new bank loans in April tumble as COVID-19 jolts economy

New bank lending in China tumbled in April from the previous month as the COVID-19 pandemic jolted the economy and weakened credit demand, central bank data showed on Friday (May 13), after it pledged to step up support to ward off a sharper slowdown.

Chinese banks extended 645.4 billion yuan (US$95.14 billion) in new yuan loans in April, down about 80 per cent from March and falling short of analyst expectations, according to the People’s Bank of China data.

Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted new yuan loans would fall to 1.52 trillion yuan in April from 3.13 trillion yuan the previous month and against 1.47 trillion yuan a year earlier.

“Lending was much weaker than expected last month as lockdowns weighed on credit demand. This should nudge the PBOC to announce further easing measures soon,” Capital Economics said in a note.

“But the central bank continues to signal a relatively restrained approach.”

The central said the sharp slowdown in April new loans reflected the impact of the COVID-19 on the real economy.

“Enterprises, especially small, medium-sized and micro enterprises, had more operating difficulties, and demand for effective financing decreased significantly,” it said.

Full or partial lockdowns to stop the spread of COVID-19 in dozens of Chinese cities, including a city-wide shutdown in the commercial hub of Shanghai, have hit the economy hard.

To cushion a sharp slowdown in economic growth, the central bank cut the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves from Apr 25, and more modest easing steps are expected.

The central bank said on Monday it would step up support for the slowing economy, while closely watching domestic inflation and monitoring policy adjustments by developed economies.

Broad M2 money supply grew 10.5 per cent from a year earlier, central bank data showed, above estimates of 9.9 per cent forecast in the Reuters poll. M2 grew 9.7 per cent in March from a year ago.

Outstanding yuan loans grew 10.9 per cent in April from a year earlier compared with 11.4 per cent growth in March. Analysts had expected 11.4 per cent growth.

Growth of outstanding total social financing (TSF), a broad measure of credit and liquidity in the economy, slowed to 10.2 per cent in April from a year earlier and from 10.6 per cent in March.

TSF includes off-balance sheet forms of financing that exist outside the conventional bank lending system, such as initial public offerings, loans from trust companies and bond sales.

In April, TSF fell to 910.2 billion yuan from 4.65 trillion yuan in March. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected April TSF of 2.15 trillion yuan.
Source: Reuters

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