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POLITICAL ECONOMY
China bank lending nearly doubles in March
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) April 11, 2013


Standard Chartered sells 5 bn yuan bond in China
Hong Kong (AFP) April 11, 2013 - Standard Chartered on Thursday said it issued a five billion yuan ($807 million) bond in the Chinese market, the largest yuan-denominated bond sale by a foreign bank in the country.

The British bank said the three-year bond, which was approved by Chinese banking regulators, will be used to support the bank's lending to small and micro enterprises in China.

The bond has a coupon rate of 4.2 percent and was fully subscribed by institutional investors in the Chinese market.

"We are delighted to be the first foreign bank to issue a financial bond in support of small and micro enterprises in China," Standard Chartered China Chief Executive Officer Lim Cheng Teck said in a statement.

"This bond issuance enables us to provide more innovative products and services to this sector," Lim said, adding that the bank will continue to participate in the domestic bond market's development.

Standard Chartered last month said its net profit was flat for 2012, after it was hit by huge fines for violating US sanctions on Iran and other countries.

The bank's performance was also affected by slower growth in key markets such as India and China, which both suffered slowdowns last year.

Chinese banks in March lent nearly twice as much as in February, official data showed Thursday, as Beijing strengthened efforts to bolster a faltering economic recovery.

Banks granted a total of 1.06 trillion yuan ($171 billion) in new loans last month, up from 620 billion yuan in February, the central People's Bank of China said in a statement.

Total social financing, a broader measure of credit, surged to 2.54 trillion yuan, it said, more than doubling from 1.07 trillion yuan in February, although that month had fewer working days because of the Lunar New Year holiday.

The central bank also said that China's foreign exchange reserves, the world's largest, had increased to $3.44 trillion by the end of March.

The figures came after official inflation and foreign trade data for March released this week indicated recovery in the world's second-largest economy has remained fragile.

"With the supportive monetary policy, we expect growth to regain its rising momentum in the second quarter after a pause in the first quarter if the ongoing bird flu won't turn much uglier," analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a report, referring to the H7N9 illness that has killed 10 people.

But they cautioned that the strong rebound in lending last month could again fan fears on inflation, property bubbles and government debt, which could in turn trigger monetary tightening.

"China's monetary policymakers are in a tough position to balance short-term growth stability, market worries, and long-term economic health," they said.

The economy grew 7.8 percent last year, its slowest pace in 13 years, due to the global downturn and domestic woes.

An acceleration in the final three months of last year to 7.9 percent, which snapped seven straight quarters of slowing growth, had raised recovery expectations among economists.

However, the consumer price index -- a main gauge of inflation -- in March rose 2.1 percent year-on-year, down from 3.2 percent in February, suggesting consumer spending remained sluggish.

Adding to concerns on the country's economic outlook, the world's top exporter recorded a rare trade deficit last month as external demand, particularly in Japan and the debt-laden eurozone, remained weak.

The government is slated to announce gross domestic product growth for the first quarter on Monday.

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China inflation slows in March
Beijing (AFP) April 9, 2013
Inflation in China slowed faster than expected in March, official data showed Tuesday, indicating that the recovery in the world's second-largest economy is still weak. The news will allow the central People's Bank of China to hold off tightening monetary policy further for the time being, boosting share markets, analysts said, but they warned problems remained for the economy. China's c ... read more


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