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China says lending small firms jumps 21% in January-May

China says lending small firms jumps 21% in January-May
FILE PHOTO: Headquarters of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank, is pictured in Beijing, China September 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee -
JASON LEE(Reuters)
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BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s central bank said on Monday that more loans have been extended to small firms in the first five months of 2019, heeding Beijing’s call to support the economy.

The number of outstanding loans to small and micro enterprises rose to 10.3 trillion yuan (1.2 trillion pounds) at the end of May, up by 21% year on year, said Zou Lan, deputy head of the People’s Bank of China’s financial markets department.

The country’s top five lenders have boosted lending to small business by 23.7% during the five-month period, according to Zou. The annual target is 30%.

The non-performing loan ratio for lending to small enterprises across industry was 5.9%, according to Zou. Yi Gang, the central bank governor, said in March that the non-performing ratio of such loans was 6.2% in 2018.

The average lending rate to small and micro firms by China’s top five banks stood at 4.79% as of end-May industry-wide, down from 5.44% in 2018, according to Zou.

(Reporting by Cheng Leng, Ryan Woo and Beijing Monitoring Desk, editing by Louise Heavens)

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