China’s bank lending in August over doubled from the previous month, but analysts said a lot of the gain was on account of strong mortgage demand, adding to evidence that Chinese companies are increasingly reluctant to make new investments.
The figures, and also other data this week, paint a photo of the economy that is certainly 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 with a more-than-expected 11.4 percent from the year earlier, according to central bank data on Wednesday.
New bank lending rebounded sharply from July’s 463.6 billion yuan, which was the smallest by two 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 reluctant to cut interest levels or bank reserves again from the near term amid evidence that companies and banks are hoarding cash as opposed to investing it.
“A renewed pick-up in credit growth last month will enhance the growing sense among investors how the near-term outlook for China’s economy is rather bright,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard at Capital Economics.
“Credit growth remains to be likely to slow over coming months since the PBOC refrains from further easing and focuses more on credit risks. However with recent activity data also strengthening, we expect economic growth to boost over the remainder of the season.”
Data on Tuesday showed China’s factory output and retail sales also grew faster than expected in August being a strong real estate market plus 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 dependence on the property market is another major concern, as more cities impose restrictions on home purchases within 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 happen to be already wrestling with growing variety of bad loans.
Household loans, mostly mortgages, made up 71 percent of total new bank loans in August, though they were down from a lot more than 90 % in July, data showed.
“Home mortgages remain the main driver of loan growth, according to booming housing marketplace and weak loan demand from corporates,” David Qu and Raymond Yeung at ANZ said in a note.
Outstanding yuan loans grew at 13 percent by month-end with an annual basis.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected new lending of 750 billion yuan, with outstanding loans seen rising 12.9 percent, and funds supply seen up 10.4 percent.
Total social financing (TSF), a wide measure of credit and liquidity within the economy, jumped to 1.47 trillion yuan in August from 487.9 billion yuan in July.
TSF includes off-balance sheet forms of financing that can be found beyond the conventional bank lending system, including initial public offers, 房屋貸款 from trust companies and bond sales.
M1 money supply, consisting of 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 into the system.
“The rapid development of M1 money supply indicates corporates’ preference of holding cash as an alternative to investment. This can be consistent with all the slowing trend in fixed asset investment through 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 shooting 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 said that evidence companies and banks are hoarding cash, alongside concerns about property market as well as the yuan’s stability, has reinforced policymakers’ view there is no major benefit in easing policy further.