China lifts policy bank loans, raising housing support expectations

BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s central bank made 350 billion yuan ($49.1 billion) in loans to policy banks through its pledged supplementary lending (PSL) facility in December, data showed, fuelling expectations of increased support for the country’s ailing housing sector.

The People’s Bank of China, which released the data in a statement on Tuesday, did not say how China Development Bank, Export-Import Bank of China and Agricultural Development Bank of China would use the loans.

The data shows the first monthly increase in PSL loans since November 2022. The PBOC granted 630 billion yuan in such loans between September and November 2022 to support the Chinese economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The increase in PSL loans indicates that the quasi-fiscal policy is gradually gaining strength, and specific areas may be related to infrastructure construction, affordable housing construction, etc,” said Ma Hong, senior analyst at Zhixin Investment Research Institute.

Beijing plans to provide at least 1 trillion yuan of low-cost financing to China’s urban village redevelopment and affordable housing programmes to shore up its struggling property market, Bloomberg News reported in November.

Outstanding PSL loans were at 3.252 trillion yuan at the end of December, compared with 2.902 trillion yuan at the end of November, PBOC said.

The PSL programme, initiated in 2014, was originally designed to help support any property downturn by funding urban redevelopment, pushing up property prices in the process.

China relied heavily on PSL loans to support its shanty-town renovation during 2015-2018.

($1 = 7.1348 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Kevin Yao and Liangping Gao; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Alexander Smith)