China’s bank lending in August a lot more than doubled from the previous month, but analysts said most of the gain was on account of strong mortgage demand, increasing evidence that Chinese companies are increasingly reluctant to make new investments.
The figures, as well as other data in the week, paint a photograph of any economy that is improving slowly but increasingly reliant on a housing boom and government spending for growth.
Chinese banks extended 948.7 billion yuan ($142.23 billion) in 房貸 in August, well above expectations, while broad M2 money supply (M2) also grew by way of a more-than-expected 11.4 percent from the year earlier, as outlined by central bank data on Wednesday.
New bank lending rebounded sharply from July’s 463.6 billion yuan, that was the smallest in 2 years, while M2 quickened from July’s 10.2 percent rise, which had been the weakest in 15 months.
The central bank has pledged to maintain policy slightly loose, but sources say it is actually hesitant to cut rates or bank reserves again from the near term amid evidence that companies and banks are hoarding cash as an alternative to investing it.
“A renewed pick-up in credit growth last month will add to the growing sense among investors that this near-term outlook for China’s economy is fairly bright,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard at Capital Economics.
“Credit growth continues to be very likely to slow over coming months since the PBOC refrains from further easing and focuses much more on credit risks. But with recent activity data also strengthening, we expect economic growth to boost within the remainder of the year.”
Data on Tuesday showed China’s factory output and retail sales also grew faster than expected in August like a strong housing market and a government infrastructure spending spree underpinned increase in the world’s second-largest economy.
But August readings also highlighted imbalances in the economy, with private investment growth at record lows and exports still sluggish.
China’s increasingly reliance on the property market is another major concern, as more cities impose restrictions on home purchases inside the face of sharply rising house prices, threatening to end a near one-year rally.
A sharp price correction would enhance strains on banks that are already wrestling with growing variety of bad loans.
Household loans, mostly mortgages, taken into account 71 percent of total new bank loans in August, though these were down from greater than 90 percent in July, data showed.
“Mortgage loans remain the most important driver of loan growth, according to booming housing marketplace and weak loan demand from corporates,” David Qu and Raymond Yeung at ANZ said inside a note.
Outstanding yuan loans grew at 13 percent by month-end upon an annual basis.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected new lending of 750 billion yuan, with outstanding loans seen rising 12.9 percent, and money supply seen up 10.4 percent.
Total social financing (TSF), a broad measure of credit and liquidity in the economy, jumped to 1.47 trillion yuan in August from 487.9 billion yuan in July.
TSF includes off-balance sheet kinds of financing that can be found outside of the conventional bank lending system, like initial public offers, 房屋貸款 from trust companies and bond sales.
M1 money supply, which include cash and short-term deposits, rose 25.3 percent in August coming from a year earlier. The widening gap between M1 and M2 growth has fueled concerns about a “liquidity trap” in dexrpky35 economy where companies remain cautious about investing regardless how much stimulus money policymakers pump in to the system.
“The rapid growth of M1 money supply indicates corporates’ preference of holding cash instead of investment. This is certainly consistent using the slowing trend in fixed asset investment with the private sector,” ANZ said.
Chester Liaw, an economist at Forecast Pte Ltd in Singapore, said the spread between M1 and M2 growth narrowed to 13.9 percentage points from 15.2 last month but “remains at elevated levels.”
The PBOC is aiming for annual M2 development of around 13 percent this coming year, pointing to continued accommodative policy as Beijing pledges to engage in painful economic restructuring involving state-owned enterprises in key industrial sectors.
Policy insiders have claimed that evidence companies and banks are hoarding cash, alongside concerns about property market and also the yuan’s stability, has reinforced policymakers’ view there is absolutely no major benefit in easing policy further.