Chinese banks face slowdown after record start to the year

City A.M. Reporter
CHINESE banks, flush from record profits in a first quarter boosted by a year-long loan binge, face a slowdown as Beijing tries to cool their breakneck lending and keep the economy from overheating.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China Construction Bank and Bank of Communications, some of China’s largest lenders, posted their best-ever quarterly profits yesterday, joining fourth-ranked Bank of China in a bumper quarter for Chinese lenders.

Chinese banks extended a record 9.6tr yuan (£918bn) in new loans in 2009, nearly double the amount from 2008, under Beijing’s four trillion yuan economic stimulus package designed to boost consumption during a global financial crisis.

They continued the brisk pace with 2.6 trillion yuan in new loans in the first quarter. But that pace is slated to slow during the year as Beijing takes cooling measures to prevent economic overheating, leading to a growing belief that the strong profit growth for Chinese banks may be peaking.

“Chinese banks’ profit growth will likely continue into the second quarter when net interest margins hit a peak,” said Orient Securities’ Jin Lin.