BEIJING, Feb. 15 -- China's new yuan-denominated lending reached 1.32 trillion yuan (216 billion U.S. dollars) in January, up 246.9 billion yuan year on year, the central bank said Saturday.
The monthly new lending set a four-year high.
In January 2009, in a bid to fight the global economic downturn, China's new yuan-denominated lending hit 1.62 trillion yuan. The figure was 1.39 trillion yuan in January 2010, 1.04 trillion yuan in 2011, 738.1 billion yuan in 2012 and 1.07 trillion yuan in 2013.
January usually sees the most new lending in a year.
The country's social financing, a measure of funds raised by entities through bank credit and other means, amounted to 2.58 trillion yuan last month, surging 1.33 trillion yuan from December and up 39.9 billion yuan from a year earlier, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement.
The monthly social financing set a record high.
M2, a broad measure of money supply that covers cash in circulation and all deposits, increased 13.2 percent year on year to 112.35 trillion yuan at the end of January.
The growth rate was down 0.2 percentage point from the end of 2013 and down 2.7 percentage points from the end of January 2013.
The narrow measure of money supply (M1), which covers cash in circulation plus demand deposits, expanded 1.2 percent to 31.49 trillion yuan at the end of last month.
Many economists forecast the central government will continue to tighten liquidity.
January's new yuan lending and social financing were higher than expected and this will cut policy-makers' worries about economic growth slowdown, said Industrial Bank economist Lu Zhengwei, adding that they would not let the loose liquidity continue.
But Jiang Chao, an analyst with Haitong Securities, said it will be hard for the government to continue tightening monetary polices due to months-long low inflation and climbing local debts risks.
Saturday's new lending data came after Friday's flat inflation data, which showed the decline in inflation since October 2013 had come to a halt.
China's consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, rose 2.5 percent year on year in January, unchanged from December and slightly above the market consensus of 2.4 percent.
Trade data on Wednesday showed China's January exports rose more quickly than expected at 10.6 percent year on year to 382.4 billion U.S. dollars.
China's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 7.7 percent year on year in 2013, above the official target of 7.5 percent. GDP growth was 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, down from 7.8 percent in the third quarter.
The government has yet to announce its 2014 growth target, and analysts expect it to be 7 or 7.5 percent.
Although headline GDP growth remains stable, analysts expect a further moderation as authorities focus on forging a more sustainable model and pushing ahead with reforms.