Bank loans made in China last month amounted to 1.62 trillion yuan ($237 billion), an increment of 814.1 billion yuan, or 103.6 percent, on the same month of 2008, the People's Bank of China, the central bank, said on Thursday.
Credit extension, boosted by China's ambitious economic stimulus plan, has been robust since late last year. Loans made nationwide stood at 771.8 billion yuan last December, 723.3 billion yuan, or nearly 15 folds, above the year-earlier level.
According to data released by the central bank, outstanding local currency loans were up 21.33 percent to 31.99 trillion yuan at the end of January. The growth rate was 2.6 percentage points higher than the end of 2008.
China's banks tended to loose credit at the beginning of a new year for large, potentially lucrative projects, which usually started in such a period, said Guo Tianyong, an expert of banking at the Central University of Finance and Economics.
In the past five years, loans released in January usually covers 12 to 18 percent of the total lending of the whole year.
Analysts with Morgan Stanley said that the rapid loan expansion would unlikely be sustainable through 2009. They believed that a significant part of credit expansion reflected the unwinding of pent-up demand for short-term working capital--which was artificially created by tight credit controls in the first half of 2008.
Last November the government announced a 4-trillion-yuan stimulus package for the next two years.
The sharp credit expansion at the beginning of this year laid quantitative foundation for the economic growth of the whole year, said Zuo Xiaolei, chief economist of China Galaxy Securities Co Ltd.
China's economy cooled to its slowest pace in seven years in 2008, growing 9 percent year-on-year upon impact from the widening global financial crisis. The year-on-year gross domestic product growth for the fourth quarter slided to 6.8 percent.
Through January, the M2 -- a broad measure of money supply, which covers cash in circulation plus all deposits -- grew by 18.79 percent from a year earlier to 49.61 trillion yuan.
The M2 growth rate was 0.97 percentage points higher than the previous month. The growth rate for last December was 3.02 percentage points above that of the previous month, after the figure falling for six consecutive months.
Through January, the narrow measure of money supply, M1(cash in circulation plus corporate current deposits), was up 6.68 percent to 16.52 trillion yuan from a year earlier. The growth rate was 2.38 percentage points lower than the end of 2008, according to the central bank.
The outstanding amount of M0, or cash in circulation, hit 4.11 trillion yuan, up 12.02 percent from the same point last year.