China bank loans surge in March: central bank16 april 2014, 10:20
China's bank lending surged in March from the previous month, the central bank said Tuesday, but analysts dismissed the possibility of monetary easing, AFP reports.
Domestic banks granted 1.05 trillion yuan ($168.7 billion) in new loans last month, down 12.4 billion yuan from a year earlier, the People's Bank of China (PBoC) said in a statement.
The March lending figure compared with 644.5 billion yuan for February and came in slightly above a median forecast of one trillion yuan, according to a poll of 16 economists by the Wall Street Journal.
But analysts denied it was a sign of monetary easing that some had hoped the government would take to bolster economic growth, which may have slowed to 7.3 percent in the first quarter, according to an AFP survey.
"The surge in new loans does not mark a shift in policy stance but rather reflects the usual seasonal pattern in March, when loan officers boost lending ahead of quarterly financial reports," Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist for Capital Economics, wrote in a report Tuesday.
"Despite a surge in bank loans and relatively loose interbank liquidity conditions in March, today's data show that the credit slowdown is still on track."
Growth of outstanding bank loans slowed to 13.9 percent year-on-year at the end of March from 14.2 percent in February, according to the PBoC statement.
Total social financing, a broader measure of credit, stood at 2.07 trillion yuan for March, down 479.4 billion yuan from the same month last year, it said.
The central bank also announced that China's foreign exchange reserves reached $3.95 trillion as of end-March, up from $3.82 trillion at the end of 2013.