2004-01-20 10:31:10

BEIJING Money supply growth slows

China's broad M2 money supply was up 19.6 per cent at the end of 2003, compared with a year earlier, the central bank said last Thursday.

M1 money supply was up 18.7 per cent at the end of December, while M0, or cash in circulation, was up 14.3 per cent, the People's Bank of China said in a statement published on its website at www.pbc.gov.cn.

"The monetary environment is relaxed, as growth of both M2 and M1 exceeded the gross domestic product growth for 2003,?the bank said.

China's M2 was up 20.4 per cent, year-on-year, at the end of November. M1 was up 18.9 per cent at end-November, while M0 was up 12.8 per cent.

The central bank is worried rapid monetary growth might trigger overheating, as banks lend more to sectors like property. China has tried to trim lending through steps such as raising bank reserve requirements.

China's M2 includes M1, personal savings, institutional time deposits and other deposits. M1 includes M0 and institutional demand deposits.


HK business incorporated

Standard Chartered, which has been in China for nearly 150 years, said last Thursday it plans to incorporate its Hong Kong business to take advantage of closer economic ties with the Chinese mainland.

London-based Standard Chartered, which makes about two-thirds of its profit in Asia, has been mulling the move for some time as it looks to expand in the mainland. It wants to incorporate its HK unit as a wholly owned subsidiary.

"This is a signal of our confidence in Hong Kong and the mainland,?Chairman Bryan Sanderson said in a statement.

"Hong Kong is our largest market, and Greater China is at the heart of our growth strategy.?

The bank has said it is looking for a local banking partner in China, where it is already present in 13 cities.

Last year, the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong signed a landmark free trade pact, which gives companies from Hong Kong greater market access to the mainland. The pact took effect on January 1.

ING closes second fund

Dutch financial services firm ING Group said last Thursday its Chinese asset management joint venture had closed its second fund, after raising more than 4.6 billion yuan (US$555.6 million).

ING's investment management arm, which launched the fund on December 12, said investors in its China Merchants Cash Plus Fund included companies, individuals and qualified foreign institutional investors.

Retail investors opened 20,000 accounts in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, the company said.

The fund invests in Chinese investment-grade bonds, treasury bills and other government-approved cash and fixed-income instruments.

ING was the first foreign company to launch a joint-fund management venture on the Chinese mainland, clinching an operational licence at the end of 2002.

(Business Weekly 01/20/2004 page6)

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