SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s central bank may have issued up to 500 billion yuan ($81.81 billion) worth of short-term loan facilities (SLFs) in September to commercial banks as China tries to prop up investment without overdosing the economy on liquidity, data from the People’s Bank of China implied.
The PBOC data published online does not directly describe the SLFs, and there is no information on maturities or which banks received the funds.
But sources told Reuters the injections have tenors of three months and are opt-in lines of credit that banks can tap in case of need. Money dealers expect intensified demand for short-term cash in upcoming months given a backlog of IPOs and seasonal factors, and the central bank is keen to keep lending rates low to prevent any further strains on the cooling economy.
A Reuters analysis of selected Chinese banks’ quarterly reports shows major large commercial banks received a combined 360 billion yuan ($58.90 billion) in short-term loan facilities (SLFs) from the central bank in the third quarter.
Bank of China received 160 billion yuan, while China Construction Bank and the Agricultural Bank of China each received 100 billion yuan, according to their quarterly reports.
Sources told Reuters in October that commercial banks were set to receive another net 200 billion yuan in SLFs, at interest rates around 3.5 percent.
China’s shadow banking sector expanded rapidly to become the world’s third largest in 2013, a report released by the Financial Stability Board showed on Friday.
Attempting to slow that growth, the PBOC dramatically shortened the tenor of its monetary tools used during open market operations in 2013, relying mostly on short-term drains and injections over periods as short as a week.
However, in 2014 the central bank adjusted its strategy again and began relying on more opaque methods, in particular SLFs conducted behind closed doors, to guide money directly to selected banks instead of injecting cash through open market operations.
The PBOC has held off from making net adjustments to the country’s money supply through scheduled open market operations for three consecutive weeks, the longest such streak on record.
However, its operations have not been completely opaque; since July the PBOC has also lowered official rates on the 14-day repo rate down to 3.4 percent, seen as giving open guidance to the market on the cost of money.
Reporting by Xie Heng in BEIJING, Steven Bian and Pete Sweeney in SHANGHAI; Editing by Kim Coghill