BEIJING – China's central bank said Saturday that its foreign exchange reserves rose 16 percent year-on-year to US$1.9537 trillion by the end of March.
China's reserves, already the world's largest, increased by US$7.7 billion in the first quarter - US$146.2 billion less than the same period last year, the People's Bank of China said in a notice on its website.
That rise was substantially less than the fourth quarter increase of almost US$45 billion, according to the Xinhua News Agency, showing the impact of slowing exports due to the financial crisis.
In March, the reserves increased by US$41.7 billion, it said, US$6.7 billion more than the same period last year.
Analysts believe China holds up to 70 percent of its foreign reserves in US dollar-denominated assets, including Treasury securities.
China's reserves have ballooned as the central bank buys up dollars generated from its trade surplus and influx of foreign investment.
While China's economy has slowed due to a plunge in trade and a slump in the domestic real estate industry, recent data show the drop eased in March.
Exports fell 17 percent in March from a year earlier, the fifth straight monthly decline but less severe than February's 25.7 plunge, the sharpest in a decade, the customs agency reported Friday. It said trade "showed clear signs of improvement."
Imports fell by 25.7 percent, widening the Chinese trade surplus to US$18.6 billion from February's US$4.8 billion gap.