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China’s Key Money Rate Sinks Close to 2-Year Low

Beijing is propping up its slowing economy by keeping money rates low. On Monday China’s central bank drained 170 billion yuan on a net basis via seven-day reverse repos

China's central bank is expected to cut prime loan rates on Monday
The People's Bank of China says it will coordinate support to reduce local government debts amid concern over the high level of local government debts and the property sector's intensifying collapse. Photo: Reuters.


China is experiencing looser cash conditions, according to traders who said there was a mass of bond redemptions last week as banks cut leverage.

Liquidity in interbank money markets eased further on Tuesday, with cash supply far outpacing demand, they said.

Key rates dropped, despite a huge withdrawal of funds by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).

The volume-weighted average price of the overnight repo traded in the interbank market fell below the threshold of 1% for the first time in two months to 0.8532%, its lowest since January 6 last year.

By midday, the overnight repo traded at 0.8716%, down about 21 basis points from the previous close, and the seven-day repo stood at 1.6361%, more than 36 basis points lower than the reverse repo rate charged by the central bank.

“After crazy bond redemptions last week, everyone has a lot of cash in hand,” a trader at a fund said.

While most other major economies are raising interest rates to tame inflation, Beijing is focusing more on propping up a slowing economy by keeping money rates low.

And many market participants had taken advantage of the low repo rates to fund leveraged trades in bonds, traders said.


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Bond Market Selloff

The government bond market had its worst single-day of selloffs in two years last week, as risk appetite swelled amid rising expectations for a gradual easing of stringent Covid curbs and official moves to support the troubled property sector.

Sentiment steadied this week, as the PBOC drained 170 billion yuan on a net basis via seven-day reverse repos earlier in the session.

The moves came after the central bank drained short-term liquidity from the banking system for the first time in eight days on Monday.

However, markets are divided whether the falls in the money rates would be sustainable.

“We are more inclined to see the recent softening in CNY rates as short-lived,” Frances Cheung, a rates strategist at OCBC Bank, said.

“And we do not expect rates to go back to the lows seen in September and October, given China’s more supportive economic policy, yet a more balanced monetary policy stance.”

State media quoted deputy central bank governor Pan Gongsheng as saying the PBOC would provide 200 billion yuan in loans to commercial banks for housing completions.

“While markets are certainly keen to forward price, new Covid cases are elevated and climbing, which should bring back into focus the intensifying risks of lockdowns,” DBS rates strategist Duncan Tan said in a note.

Beijing, the capital, shut parks, shopping malls and museums on Tuesday while more cities resumed mass Covid testing, in the fight on a fresh nationwide spike in infections that has deepened concerns about its economy.

There may not be more pro-growth policy measures in the near-term, Tan added, following efforts to spur rates to push higher, saying, “Rates could continue to pull back.”


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard





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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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