China Maintains Loan Prime Rates

China retained its benchmark lending rates, as widely expected, on Friday, after lowering it last month.

The one-year loan prime rate was retained at 4.15 percent and the five-year loan prime rate at 4.80 percent.

The rate was last reduced in November, which was the first reduction since the new lending rate was introduced.

The loan prime rate is fixed monthly based on the submission of 18 banks, though Beijing has influence over the rate-setting. This new lending rate replaced central bank's traditional benchmark lending rate in August.

This probably marks a pause rather than the end of the monetary easing cycle, Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics, noted.

With strains on corporate balance sheets still intensifying and economic activity likely to cool further in the first half of 2020, the People's Bank of China will step up the pace of rate cuts before long, the economist added. The LPR is forecast to decline 50 basis points next year as a result.

Earlier this week, the PBoC had cut its 14-day reverse repurchase rate marginally to 2.65 percent after cutting the short-term 7-day repo rate a month ago. On Wednesday, the central bank also injected CNY 200 billion into the financial system via reverse repurchase agreements.

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