China trims 1-year rate, but unexpectedly leaves 5-year rate unchanged

A night view of the Central Business District in Beijing, China, Nov 10, 2021.

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China’s central bank cut its one-year loan prime rate Monday, while leaving its five-year rate unchanged. These decisions are weaker than expectations for more muscular policy intervention following a raft of data that pointed to faltering growth momentum in the world’s second-largest economy.

The People’s Bank of China trimmed its one-year loan prime rate — the peg for most household and corporate loans in China — by 10 basis points from 3.55% to 3.45%, just shy of the 15 basis points that a majority of economists expected in a Reuters poll. This was the second time China has cut this rate in three months.

The PBOC left its five-year loan prime rate — the peg for most mortgages — unchanged at 4.2%, while economists expected a 15 basis point cut due to default risks from festering liquidity woes in the country’s property sector. Country Garden is on the verge of default, while Evergrande filed last week for bankruptcy protection in a Manhattan court.

The Hang Seng Index was down 0.9% in early trading, while the China Enterprises Index sank more than 1% and the CSI 300 index of mainland-listed blue chips was down 0.3%.

Monday’s actions follow surprise cuts to its short- and medium-term lending rates last Tuesday after a raft of economic data pointed to weak credit growth and emerging deflation risks, intensifying fears of a rapidly slowing economy. Missed payments on some shadow banking-linked trust products are further spooking investors.

The PBOC had lowered the rate on 401 billion yuan ($55.25 billion) worth of one-year medium-term lending facility loans to some financial institutions by 15 basis points to 2.50% from 2.65% previously. Overnight, seven-day, and one-month standing lending facility rates were each trimmed by 10 basis points to 2.65%, 2.8% and 3.15%, respectively.

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