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Further interest rate cuts likely
By Kwong Man-ki (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-12-17 08:08

China will face pressure to cut interest rates until the beginning of next year, Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank, said yesterday.

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"From now until the beginning of next year is full of interest rate cut pressure," Zhou said in Hong Kong, where the Financial Stability Forum is meeting.

The deepness of the interest rate cuts "will depend on our estimates and the actual statistics of CPI (consumer price index) for us to make rate cut decisions", Zhou said.

He added: "The CPI is going down and sometimes faster than we think." China's annual inflation gauge fell to a 22-month low of 2.4 percent in November, which, analysts said, provided the central bank with sufficient room to cut interest rates further.

The central bank reduced the one-year lending rate to 5.58 percent from 7.47 percent in September amid the global financial turmoil.

Barclays Capital predicted that the PBOC may reduce the lending rate to 5.04 percent from 5.58 percent by the end of 2008, and the rate will be further trimmed to 4.23 percent in the second quarter of 2009.

Peter Redward, director and head of emerging Asia research at Barclays Capital, said earlier that with inflationary pressures receding and growth concerns rising, central banks across Asia are front-loading and easing monetary conditions.

When Zhou was asked about the recent slowing pace of renminbi appreciation, he acknowledged that China has intervened to influence the renminbi exchange rate, but said the rate was under a managed float.

He also noted that the exchange rate depreciation may not be able to boost export growth; he said it is basically determined by supply and demand and the trade balance.

Zhou pointed out that imports are also falling, sending the trade surplus to a record high.

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