China sets low Q1 loan quota for state banks: Report

Updated: 2011-01-20 13:47


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BEIJING - Chinese regulators have ordered the nation's four biggest banks to cap their combined new loans in the first quarter at 726 billion yuan ($110 billion), local media said on Wednesday.

If accurate, the figure reported by the Caixin web portal would represent a very low lending ceiling. China's four largest banks had already issued 210 billion yuan of new loans in the first week of the year alone, according to sources.

What's more, given that the "big four" banks typically account for about half of new loans in China, the cap would imply total nationwide lending of about 1.5 trillion yuan in the first three months this year, well down from the 2.6 trillion yuan level in the first quarter of 2010.

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"The central bank ordered lenders to control their lending pace as new loans in the first two weeks of this year surged too fast," Caixin said, citing an unnamed source close to a big bank.

The report provided a breakdown of first-quarter lending quotas for the four banks: 210.9 billion yuan for the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), 180 billion yuan for Bank of China, 196.2 billion yuan for China Construction Bank and 138.8 billion yuan for Agricultural Bank of China.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao vowed on Tuesday to prevent a credit surge at the start of this year, seeking to ensure that banks do not pump too much cash into the economy just as the government tries to rein in inflation.

Without mentioning any details about lending targets, Jiang Jianqing, ICBC chairman, said in the latest edition of China Finance magazine that the bank, the country's largest, would be little hurt by slower lending.

"I don't think the slowdown in loan growth will change the trend of continuous improvement in ICBC's profitability," Jiang told the magazine, which is published by the central bank.


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