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China In-Focus — Bank lending at four-year low; Shanghai aims to reopen more COVID-shut businesses

BEIJING: New bank lending in China hit the lowest in nearly four and half years in April as the COVID-19 pandemic jolted the economy and weakened credit demand, central bank data showed on Friday, after it pledged to step up support to ward off a sharper slowdown.

Chinese banks extended 645.4 billion yuan ($95.14 billion) in new yuan loans in April, down about 80 percent from March and dipping to the lowest level since December 2017, according to the People’s Bank of China data.

The lending missed expectations by a wide margin, as analysts polled by Reuters had predicted new yuan loans would fall to 1.52 trillion yuan in April from 3.13 trillion yuan the previous month and against 1.47 trillion yuan a year earlier.

“Lending was much weaker than expected last month as lockdowns weighed on credit demand. This should nudge the PBoC to announce further easing measures soon,” Capital Economics said in a note.

“But the central bank continues to signal a relatively restrained approach.”

The central said the sharp slowdown in April’s new loans reflected the impact of the COVID on the real economy.

Shanghai to reopen more COVID-shut businesses

Shanghai will gradually begin reopening businesses such as shopping malls and hair salons in China’s financial and manufacturing hub from Monday after weeks in strict COVID-19 lockdown, while Beijing battles a small but stubborn outbreak.

Shanghai is tightening curbs in some areas that it hopes marks a final push in its campaign against the virus, which has infuriated and exhausted residents of China’s largest and most cosmopolitan city.

Shopping malls, department stores, and supermarkets will begin resuming in-store operations and allow customers to shop in “an orderly way,” while hair salons and vegetable markets will reopen with limited capacity, Vice Mayor Chen Tong told a media briefing on Sunday.

He gave no specifics on the pace or extent of such reopenings, and many residents reacted online with skepticism.

“Who are you lying to? We can’t even go out of our compound. You can open up, no one can go,” said a user of China’s Twitter-like Weibo, whose IP showed as being from Shanghai.

During Shanghai’s lockdown, residents have been mainly limited to buying necessities, with normal shopping on online platforms largely suspended due to a shortage of couriers.

And while barbers and hairdressers have been giving haircuts on the street or in open areas of housing compounds, residents recently able to leave their homes for a few hours at a time to walk or buy groceries have generally appeared more disheveled than usual.

With input from Reuters 

Noting that the news was copied from another site and all rights reserved to the original source.

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