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Experts say China's financial position robust

By WANG YANFEI | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-27 09:36

Concerns about China's financial stability are somewhat exaggerated and there is no need to read too much into a single agency's revised view of the economy, a number of leading credit rating experts said on Friday.

Their rebuttal came in response to Moody's downgrade on Wednesday of China's sovereign rating by one notch to A1. Moody's said it expects the financial strength of the world's second-largest economy to weaken in coming years, as growth slows and debt continues to mount.

Moody's cut to China's sovereign credit rating for the first time in nearly three decades is largely seen as symbolic and could definitely not be regarded as the sole criterion for investors to make decisions, said Huo Zhihui, deputy head of China Credit Rating Co.

On Friday, Dagong Global Credit Rating Co maintained its local and foreign currency sovereign credit ratings for China at AA+ and AAA respectively, both with stable outlooks.

"China is steadily moving forward with structural reform, which reduces any downside risks to the country's economic outlook," Dagong said in a statement on Friday.

"Despite rising debt burdens on the central and local governments, they have been managed at reasonable levels," it added.

"Therefore, the Chinese government retains its robust local and foreign currency solvency," the statement said.

Fielding Chen, a Bloomberg Intelligence economist, said Moody's missed important points in downgrading its credit rating on China.

Chen said Bloomberg Intelligence Economics' measure of China's financial stability rebounded in the first quarter from a trough in the fourth quarter of 2016, and early indicators pointed to further improvement in the second quarter.

The improvement suggested the likelihood of an economic hard-landing or financial crisis had declined.

Yu Chunjiang, deputy head of Beijing-based Golden Credit Rating Co, said the debt market would not be influenced much by Moody's downgrade, as it mainly followed credit ratings by domestic agencies.

But Yu also warned about a possible change as China may open the credit rating market to foreign agencies like Moody's, based on a recent top-level agreement between China and the United States.

Sun Binbin, a senior analyst at Tianfeng Securities Co, said Moody's overemphasized single aspects such as ongoing debt-to-equity swaps-which aim to lower the leverage for State-owned enterprises by turning debts into equities and selling them-to judge the overall economy.

"You cannot conclude that the overall risk is mounting simply from a single indicator. That argument just doesn't hold water," Sun said.

The Chinese government has strongly criticized the downgrade, saying it was based on "inappropriate methodology", which exaggerated difficulties facing the economy and underestimated the government's reform efforts.

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