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ICBC’s Yang Says Lending ‘Normal’ After Report of March Decline

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. President Yang Kaisheng said lending at the world’s largest bank by market value was “normal” in early March, after a newspaper said new loans at the nation’s four biggest lenders fell during the period.

ICBC, China Construction Bank Corp., Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. and Bank of China Ltd. lent a total of 550 billion yuan ($87 billion) from Jan. 1 through March 4, Shanghai Securities News reported, citing an unidentified person. The banks’ new loans were 320 billion yuan in January and 260 billion yuan in February, suggesting that new credit fell by about 30 billion yuan in the first four days of this month, the person said, according to the newspaper.

Xiao Gang, chairman of Bank of China Ltd., said the data are no surprise, telling reporters in Beijing today that investors should focus on monthly or quarterly figures.

The People’s Bank of China last month cut the percentage of deposits that lenders must set aside as reserves, after new lending in January was the lowest for that month in five years. The week-long Lunar New Year holiday was celebrated in January this year for the first time since 2009. Data for February new loans will be published later this month.

ICBC’s Yang said on March 4 that the top four banks’ new lending in the first two months rose by about 20 billion yuan from a year earlier. ICBC increased its lending in that period by about 15 billion yuan to 165.5 billion yuan, he said.

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