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Chinese banks lend more to agriculture, small firms

Updated: Feb 22,2017 4:24 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — Chinese banks strengthened financial support for agriculture, small-and-micro enterprises and affordable housing projects last year.

Outstanding agriculture-related loans stood at 28.2 trillion yuan (about $4.1 trillion) at the end of 2016, up 7.1 percent year on year, according to a statement posted on the website of the China Banking Regulatory Commission. Outstanding loans to small-and-micro firms hit 26.7 trillion yuan, up 13.8 percent.

Lending to affordable housing projects surged 58.7 percent from a year ago, well above the average loan growth of 12.8 percent.

China has channeled more energy into fostering agricultural development and small businesses, with financial support playing a significant role.

The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, said on Feb 21 that it will extend a favorable policy that allows banks with big lending to small and agricultural firms to enjoy a lower cash reserve ratio.

The statement also showed falling bad loan ratio and better profit of banks last year.

Chinese lenders saw the ratio of their non-performing loans fall to 1.74 percent at the end of 2016, slightly down from 1.76 percent a quarter ago.

Banks reported faster profit growth thanks to a firming economy. Net profits of commercial lenders increased 3.54 percent year on year, up 1.11 percentage points from a year ago.

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