China Raises Bank Reserve Ratio for Fourth Time in 2011 to Curb Inflation

China raised banks’ reserve requirements to lock up cash and limit inflation after economic growth exceeded forecasts and consumer prices rose by the most since 2008.

Reserve ratios will increase a half point from April 21, the People’s Bank of China said on its website today. The move, taking the requirement to 20.5 percent for the nation’s biggest lenders, came less than two weeks after the central bank boosted benchmark interest rates.

“Tightening will continue until there are signs that inflation has been effectively brought under control,” Shen Jianguang, a Hong Kong-based economist at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd., said before today’s announcement.

A surge in foreign-exchange reserves to $3 trillion last month and rebounding lending and money-supply growth have highlighted overheating risks in the fastest-growing major economy. Gross domestic product rose 9.7 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier and inflation accelerated to 5.4 percent, the most since July 2008, the statistics bureau said April 15.

Inflation has exceeded the government’s 2011 target of 4 percent each month so far this year. The increase in reserve requirements was the fourth this year.

‘Great Pressure’

Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

The proportion of lenders’ deposits that must be parked with the central bank will increase half a percentage point from March 25, the People’s Bank of China said on its website. Close

The proportion of lenders’ deposits that must be parked with the central bank will... Read More

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Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

The proportion of lenders’ deposits that must be parked with the central bank will increase half a percentage point from March 25, the People’s Bank of China said on its website.

China is under “great pressure” from price increases, Premier Wen Jiabao said April 9. The government will remove monetary causes of inflation, he said, indicating the tools will include reserve requirements, interest rates, the exchange rate, and bill sales to soak up cash.

Increasing the ratio reduces the amount of money banks have available to lend by forcing them to keep more of their deposits at the central bank.

New lending rebounded to 679 billion yuan ($104 billion) in March and money-supply growth accelerated, central bank data showed. Extra liquidity from maturing bills may also have encouraged officials to move today.

“China is by no means near the end of the current tightening cycle,” Dong Tao, a Hong Kong-based economist with Credit Suisse Group AG, said before today’s announcement.

A stronger yuan could help to ease inflation pressures by countering higher prices for imports.

--Zheng Lifei, Sophie Leung, Victoria Ruan. Editors: Nerys Avery, Paul Panckhurst.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Lifei Zheng in Beijing at +86-10-6649-7560 or lzheng32@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Panckhurst in Hong Kong at ppanckhurst@bloomberg.net

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