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Rising property, stock markets dent consumer spending

RISING stock and property markets have squeezed consumer spending in the second quarter, a bank card index showed.

The Bankcard Consumer Confidence Index tracks the transaction figures of bankcard owners in nine major Chinese cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.

The index inched down to 85.31 in the second quarter from the first quarter's 86.95, China UnionPay Co said.

Despite the drop, the second-quarter figure was still higher than the 85.31 recorded in the third quarter of 2008 when the global financial crisis broke out.

"The consumption confidence trend is still rising despite the dip," China UnionPay said. "The recovering capital and high-rising property markets have siphoned consumers' expenditure."

Domestic banks have tightened the issuing of credit cards since the beginning of this year to ward off credit risks against the fallout of the financial crisis.

But now that the economy is showing recovery signs, lenders including Bank of China, Bank of Communications and China Merchants Bank have launched campaigns to increase card-based consumption.

China Citic Bank has allied with cinemas, golf clubs, and restaurants to boost bank card consumption.

Credit cards are growing in popularity. About 142 million credit cards had been issued as of the end of 2008. The figure is expected to rise to 200 million this year.

There were 2.11 million POS machines in the country as of the end of June, growing 10 times in the past seven years.

Shanghai-based UnionPay tracks all yuan-backed bank card transactions in China.


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