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Credit data points to monetary easing

(Xinhua)    20:04, February 15, 2015

BEIJING, Feb. 15 -- Growth in China's broad money supply slipped to its lowest level on record in January even as new yuan loans hit their highest point in more than five years, reinforcing the case for more monetary easing.

On Friday, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said new bank loans surged to 1.47 trillion yuan (239.8 billion U.S. dollars) in January, more than doubling December's 697.3 billion yuan and expanding to a level not seen since mid-2009.

But overall credit -- as measured by total social financing -- was weak compared with a year ago. M2, a broad measure of money supply that covers cash in circulation and all deposits, climbed 10.8 percent year on year, a record low.

The slower M2 growth was largely attributed to weakened financing demand due to slowing economic activity and capital outflow, according to a report by the China International Capital Corporation.

This came after China reported its lowest annual growth rate in a quarter of a century last year and other indicators over the past two weeks suggested continued weakness at the start of 2015.

Highlighting soft domestic demand, January's trade data has been disappointing and consumer inflation slipped to a five-year low.

To avoid a sharper slowdown, the central bank cut benchmark interest rates in November for the first time in more than two years. This month, it relaxed the amount of reserves banks are required to hold with the central bank, also the first such move in more than two years, and injected more liquidity through open market operations.

Although January data is usually distorted by seasonal factors related to the Lunar New Year, analysts have said that further monetary easing is needed to maintain steady credit growth and support economic growth.

"The PBOC needs to use reserve requirement ratio (RRR) cuts and liquidity facilities to ensure that liquidity conditions remain stable despite persistent capital outflows," said Wang Tao, chief China economist with UBS.

Wang forecast at least two more rate cuts, with the next cut around March or April.

Lian Ping, chief economist with the Bank of Communications, forecast the central bank will cut the RRR by at least 50 basis points in the first half of this year.

Lian said the central bank may reduce the benchmark interest rate once in the first half of 2015 if downward pressure continues to weigh on the economy while deflationary pressure continues to amount.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Ma Xiaochun,Bianji)

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