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Chinese Banks Hold Lending Rates Despite PBOC Calls for Easing

(Bloomberg) — Chinese banks maintained their lending rates for a third month even though the central bank boosted liquidity and called for lower borrowing costs to help the economy.

The one-year loan prime rate was held steady at 3.7%, the People’s Bank of China said Wednesday. A slight majority of 9 of the 16 economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a cut. 

The five-year rate, a reference for long-term loans including mortgages, was also unchanged at 4.6%. 

Loan prime rates are China’s de facto benchmark lending rates, based on the quotes that 18 banks offer their best customers and submit to the central bank. The one-year LPR usually moves in lockstep with the PBOC’s one-year medium-term lending facility rate, which was left unchanged last week.

Expectations for a cut in the LPRs rose after the PBOC took a number of steps recently to spur lending in the economy to help offset the economic damage of Covid lockdowns. It provided banks with more liquidity by reducing the reserve requirement ratio, or the amount of cash lenders must hold in reserve, and urged banks to lower deposit rates this month, reducing their funding costs. The PBOC also transferred profit to the central government in another move to boost money supply.

Those who had forecast no change in the LPRs said the RRR cut of 25 basis points for most banks was too small and too late to give banks an incentive to lower their benchmark lending rates this month. 

The one-year LPR was previously lowered in December and January, after the PBOC’s easing measures, including a cut in the RRR and reduction of interest rates.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

Chinese Banks Hold Lending Rates Despite PBOC Calls for Easing

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