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China set to keep lending benchmark LPR unchanged for 13th straight month

By Reuters

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s benchmark lending rate is widely expected to stay unchanged for the 13th straight month at its May fixing on Thursday, a Reuters survey showed.

Twenty-two traders and analysts, or 92% of all 24 participants, in a snap Reuters poll conducted this week predicted no change in either the one-year Loan Prime Rate (LPR) or the five-year tenor.

One respondent expected an increase of 5 basis points to both tenors this month, while another predicted a 5 basis points rate cut to the one-year LPR.

The one-year LPR was last at 3.85%, and the five-year rate stood at 4.65%.

Strong expectations for a steady LPR came after the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) injected 100 billion yuan worth of one-year medium-term lending facility (MLF) loans to some financial institutions earlier this week, rolling over the same amount of maturing loans while keeping interest rate unchanged for the 13th straight month.

The MLF, one of the PBOC’s main tools in managing longer-term liquidity in the banking system, serves as a guide for the LPR.

“After last week’s PPI showed factory gate prices rose at the fastest pace since 2017, the PBOC said in its monetary policy report that China had no basis for long-term inflation or deflation, sending a stable monetary policy signal to the market,” said Marco Sun, chief financial markets analyst at MUFG Bank.

Although the benchmark is expected to remain steady for some time, some banks have been raising mortgage rates in Shenzhen as home prices climb and policymakers crack down on speculation.

In the PBOC’s first-quarterly monetary policy report, the weighted average rate of newly issued loans rose to 5.1% at end-March, up from 5.03% at end-2020. Interest rates of corporate loans and home loans have risen for the first time since 2019.

The LPR is a lending reference rate set monthly by 18 banks.

All 24 responses in the survey were collected from selected participants on a private messaging platform.

(Reporting by Reuters China fixed income team, Writing by Winni Zhou; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)