February 13, 2015 / 9:23 AM / 5 years ago

China January new yuan loans surge to a 5-1/2-year high

BEIJING, Feb 13 (Reuters) - China’s economy extended 1.47 trillion yuan ($235.6 billion) in new loans in January, beating analysts’ expectations in a lending surge not seen since mid-2009.

Economists polled by Reuters had predicted new local-currency loans would rebound to 1.35 trillion yuan in January, compared with 697 billion in December.

The central bank also said on Friday that broad M2 money supply (M2) grew 10.8 percent year-on-year, missing expectations of 12.1 percent and 12.2 percent in the previous month.

Outstanding loan growth stood at 13.9 percent, the People’s Bank of China said. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected outstanding loans to grow by 13.4 percent, down slightly from the previous month’s reading.

New lending was well below expectations in December as banks ignored the PBOC’s exhortations to extend more credit, complaining of a lack of qualified borrowers. The economy grew at its slowest pace in 24 years last year and other data this week suggested a further loss of momentum at the start of 2015.

Highlighting soft demand, January imports slumped nearly 20 percent while consumer inflation hit a five-year low, reinforcing expectations that authorities will have to roll out more stimulus measures to avert a sharper slowdown.

However, analysts cautioned about reading too much into economic indicators for January alone, given the strong seasonal distortions caused by the timing of the Lunar New Year holidays, which began on Jan. 31 last year but start on Feb. 19 this year.

$1 = 6.2390 Chinese yuan Reporting by Koh Gui Qing and Kevin Yao; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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