China loan growth quickens

Sun Jan 8, 2012 11:42am EST
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By Kevin Yao and Judy Hua

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's banks ratcheted up lending in the last month of 2011 on the back of stronger money supply, reinforcing perceptions that the central bank is gently easing policy to cushion the impact of the global economic slowdown.

Chinese banks extended 640.5 billion yuan ($101.51 billion) in new loans in December, up from 562.2 billion yuan in November, data from the People's Bank of China showed on Sunday.

Annual growth in China's broad M2 money supply accelerated to 13.6 percent in December from November's 12.7 percent.

"The policy easing signal is becoming clearer," said Wang Hu, an economist at Guotai Junan Securities in Shanghai.

"We think the central bank will continue to loosen credit in the coming months."

The surge in bank lending and money supply exceeded market expectations. Analysts had expected 600 billion yuan in new loans for December and annual M2 growth of 12.7 percent in December.

Chinese policymakers have watched Europe's debt crisis with increasing alarm, but have resisted declaring an outright easing in monetary policy. Instead, they have stressed the need to "fine tune" policy, which many analysts say will mean easing of credit restrictions, particularly for small businesses.

In a separate statement on Sunday the central bank reiterated that it intended to maintain a stable monetary policy.   Continued...