China banking system passes stress tests - PBOC

SHANGHAI, April 30 Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:37am EDT

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SHANGHAI, April 30 (Reuters) - China's banking system can weather large increases in bad debts or a sharp economic slowdown, the central bank said, although some individual banks would fall below required liquidity ratios in a worst-case scenario.

Concern about the huge growth in Chinese corporate debt since the global financial crisis and the risk of defaults has intensified this year as growth slows and authorities allow markets to play a bigger role in deciding winners and losers.

"The results of the stress test showed that the asset quality and capital adequacy of China's commercial banks is relatively high," the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said in its annual financial stability report, which it released on Tuesday.

The central bank carried out stress tests at the end of last year for events such as a 400 percent rise in non-performing loans (NPLs), increases in bond yields, large changes in the yuan's exchange rate, and economic growth slowing to 4 percent.

Another worst-case scenario tested was a 15 percentage points rise in non-performing loans of local governments and industries with excess capacity.

The tests covered 17 domestic banks that are considered systemically important and account for 61 percent of assets.

"Under light, middle and heavy stress scenarios, the banking system's overall capital adequacy would remain at a relatively high level; even the most serious scenario would not see the capital adequacy ratio fall below 10.5 percent," the report said.

That would be a fall of about 1.5 percentage points in the current level of the ratio.

However, the PBOC did say that under the middle- and worst-case scenarios, one and three banks respectively would fail to meet liquidity ratio requirements. It did not name those banks, nor did it release any results for individual banks.

Commercial banks are required to keep their liquidity ratios at 25 percent or higher.

Concern about the huge growth in Chinese corporate debt since the global financial crisis has intensified this year as the government allows market forces to play a bigger role in deciding winners and losers.

The stress tests did not investigate the hundreds of smaller commercial and rural banks. These smaller lenders are seen as more vulnerable to slowing growth and rising bad debts, and their problems draw great media attention, but they are not considered to pose a broad systemic threat. [ID: nL4N0MO15S]

(Reporting by Pete Sweeney; Additional reporting by Chen Yixin and the Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by John Mair)

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