Adds details, context
BEIJING, April 15 (Reuters) – China’s banking sector’s non-performing loan (NPL) ratio was at 1.79% at the end of March, down 0.03 percentage points from the start of the year, the country’s banking and insurance regulator said on Friday.
Outstanding NPLs totalled 3.7 trillion yuan ($580.54 billion) at the end of the first quarter, Wang Zhaodi, spokesperson of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), told a news conference. No comparison figure was given for the end of 2021.
Total assets of China’s banking sector rose 8.9% in the first quarter from a year earlier, while total liabilities rose 8.8%, Wang said.
Liu Zhongrui, an official at the CBIRC, said banks’ lending in the Yangtze River Delta, which covers Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui and Shanghai, had shown little impact so far from an extended COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai.
Banks in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai extended 2.6 trillion yuan in new loans in the first quarter, up 14.7% year-on-year and 3.7 percentage points higher than the national average, Liu said.
“We should strike a balance between steady growth and guarding against risks,” Liu said, adding that the regulator will beef efforts to ensure financial support for supply chains, which are being disrupted by strict anti-virus measures.
China’s central bank is widely expected to roll out fresh stimulus measures soon to cushion a sharp economic slowdown, though it kept the rate on its medium-term lending facility unchanged as expected on Friday. nAZN02DUYO
($1 = 6.3734 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Tina Qiao, Ellen Zhang and Kevin Yao; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Kim Coghill)