Chinaâ€™s biggest banks may fall short of loan targets for the first time in at least seven years as an economic slowdown crimps demand for credit, three bank officials with knowledge of the matter said.
A decline in lending in April and May means itâ€™s likely the banksâ€™ total new loans for 2012 will be about 7 trillion yuan ($1.1 trillion), less than an estimated government goal of 8 trillion yuan to 8.5 trillion yuan, said one of the officials, declining to be identified because the person isnâ€™t authorized to speak publicly. Banks are relying on small and mid-sized companies for loan growth after demand from the biggest state- owned borrowers dropped, the people said.
The drying up of loan demand attests to the severity of Chinaâ€™s slowdown and may add pressure on Premier Wen Jiabao to cut interest rates and expand stimulus measures. The economy may grow in 2012 at its slowest pace in 13 years, a Bloomberg News survey showed last week, as Europeâ€™s debt crisis curbs exports, manufacturing shrinks and demand for new homes wanes.
â€œThe authorities are on the case of slowing growth and we expect them to continue to roll out fine-tuning stimulus measures,â€ Tim Condon, chief Asia economist for ING Financial Markets in Singapore, said in a note to clients today. The one- year lending rate in China may be cut by 25 basis points, he forecast.
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