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Banking authorities deny looser home lending

(Xinhua)

13:48, June 15, 2012

BEIJING, June 15 (Xinhua) -- China's banking authorities on Thursday denied media reports that it has relaxed restrictions on home lending and reiterated their prudent stance on property sector regulation.

The People's Bank of China, or the central bank, said recent reports stating that it has allowed commercial banks to offer a discount of up to 30 percent on lending rates to first-time home buyers contain "deliberate misinterpretations."

The PBOC said it issued a circular that allows banks to give a 20-percent discount for corporate lending, reiterating that the bottom line for individual home lending rate remains at 70 percent of the benchmark, a regular practice after benchmark rate adjustment.

The central bank announced its first cut in benchmark interest rates in more than three years last week, lowering the benchmark interest rate for deposits and loans by 25 basis points, after slower-than-expected growth raised concerns of a hard landing.

Some media reports have deliberately misinterpreted the central bank's policy and seem to be sensationalizing the message, an unnamed spokesperson with the PBOC said.

The spokesperson stressed that the central bank, and other government regulators, have maintained effective policy guidance and prudent regulation over individual home lending.

In a separate statement, the China Banking Regulatory Commission, China's top banking regulator, on Thursday also refuted media reports that the CBRC has reduced risk-weighting for individual mortgage loans.

These reports represent a "complete misunderstanding," said the CBRC in a statement on its website, adding that the risk-weighting for personal mortgage loans remains at 50 percent, which is in line with current regulations.

The CBRC set the 50-percent requirement in its newly published rules on commercial bank asset management, which are different from the previously drafted rules that set the risk-weighting of mortgage loans for first-time home buyers at 45 percent and that for second-home buyers at 60 percent.

China started to tighten regulations concerning the property sector in 2010 to cool down the runaway market. The government implemented differentiated credit and tax policies, restricted purchases of second or third homes in some cities and launched massive subsidized housing projects for low-income residents.

New home price indices in 10 major Chinese cities fell at an average rate of 3.22 percent in May, a faster drop than in April, figures from the China Index Academy show.

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