(Adds details on lending, background on economy.)
BEIJING, July 15 (Reuters) - Chinese banks are likely to make 9.5 trillion yuan ($1.5 trillion) worth of new yuan loans this year, their strongest lending surge since the 2009 financial crisis, a central bank official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
Sheng Songcheng, the head of the statistics department at the central bank, was also quoted by the Chinese financial news service Great Wisdom as saying that banks have increased lending to China’s cooling property market this year in a show of “forceful” support.
This is the first time this year that a Chinese official has publicly said how much new lending - a vital monetary policy tool - is expected to occur in the world’s second-largest economy in 2014.
His remarks also indicate that policymakers have shrugged off social concerns about China’s near-record-high home prices and are taking action to support its slowing real estate market and bolster the economy.
The acknowledgement that new lending is likely to accelerate provides evidence that China is actively loosening monetary policy, even though authorities say repeatedly that the policy stance is unchanged in its “prudent” mode.
Sheng, who spoke at a central bank press briefing, was quoted as saying that China’s broad M2 measure of money supply is expected to beat the government’s annual 13 percent target this year by rising 13 to 14 percent.
Social total financing, a broad measure of credit supply in China that was created by the central bank, is also likely to hit 18.5 trillion yuan for the year, again up 7 percent from 2013, he said.
And despite a loss of momentum in China’s housing market, Sheng said that the disbursement of property loans held strong.
Outstanding property loans hit 16.2 trillion yuan as of the end of June, up 19 percent from a year ago, the official Xinhua news agency quoted Sheng as saying.
New loans issued to the real estate sector jumped 18 percent in the first half of the year compared with a year ago, he said.
“Looking from the financial angle, the sector has lent forceful funding support to the property market,” Sheng said, adding that banks’ lending to China’s property sector is ample.
Sheng said the across-the-board rise in credit growth was “appropriate”, and that China’s monetary policy remained “prudent”.
Looser monetary conditions may reassure analysts who believe China’s slowdown may worsen in coming months if authorities do not take further policy action.
But the measures may also draw criticisms from some experts, including the International Monetary Fund, who believe that China should hold down its rapid credit growth, because its economy already relies too much on debt. ($1 = 6.2075 Chinese Yuan) (Reporting by Shao Xiaoyi and Koh Gui Qing; Editing by Richard Borsuk, Larry king)