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ICBC opens up with a credit boost

THE Industrial and Commercial Bank of China said yesterday it had issued new loans worth 252.1 billion yuan (US$36.9 billion) in January in a government-driven credit boost to ease the economic slowdown.

The bank lent 117.1 billion yuan in credit, including 69.3 billion yuan to power grids, railways, roads, and hydroelectric power projects, and 135 billion yuan in discounted bills to small and medium companies, the Beijing-based bank said in a statement yesterday.

New loans to individuals, including mortgages, amounted to 16 billion yuan.

Individual mortgages added 13.2 billion yuan in January, totaling up to 20 percent of the new individual mortgages funded in 2008.

It is rare for banks to disclose single-month figures and comparisons are not readily available. This year's easing of monetary policy sees the bank making this unconventional announcement to show it is supporting the economy.

The People's Bank of China is expected to announce China's January credit statistics in the middle of the month.

ICBC, the country's biggest bank, aims to advance 530 billion yuan in new loans in 2009, about the same as last year, the 21st Century Business Herald reported yesterday. The bank plans to complete 45 percent of its loan target in the first quarter.

China in November scrapped the lending quota and launched a series of measures in financial industries to buck the downturn.

It also announced a 4-trillion-yuan stimulus package late last year and encouraged banks to offer credit to projects and support small and medium enterprises battered by the slowdown.


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