Big China banks boost lending to small firms-paper

SHANGHAI, June 8 (Reuters) - China’s four biggest state banks have stepped up their lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with outstanding loans to SMEs reaching 6 trillion yuan ($878 billion) by the end of May, the official Shanghai Securities News reported on Monday.

China has repeatedly pressed lenders to support capital-deprived small enterprises, which play an important role in employment and are vulnerable in the economic downturn.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China 1398.HK601398.SS, the country's biggest lender, extended 325.4 billion yuan of new loans to SMEs during the first five months of this year, or 61 percent of the total, bringing loans outstanding to such companies to 2.2 trillion yuan, the paper said, citing the bank's president Yang Kaisheng.

Agricultural Bank of China [AGBKC.UL] has increased SME lending by 240 billion yuan this year, equal to half of total new loans, while Bank of China's 601988.SS3988.HK new lending to SMEs jumped 44 percent during the January-May period from a year ago, the article cited the banks' presidents as saying.

China Construction Bank's 0939.HK601939.SS SME lending totalled more than 500 billion yuan, accounting for 18 percent of the total, the newspaper said, citing Vice President Zhu Xiaohuang.

The Postal Savings Bank of China (PSBC) has extended 70 billion yuan in loans to SMEs since it started giving small loans last June, governor Tao Liming said on Sunday. (US$1=6.832 Yuan) (Reporting by Samuel Shen and Edmund Klamann)