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Chinese banks report lowest ever NPL ratio in 2007
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The non-performing loans (NPL) ratio of Chinese commercial banks fell to its lowest-ever level of 6.2 percent in 2007, according to the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC).

The ratio was 0.93 percentage points lower from a year earlier, the CBRC said on its website.

Total assets of the banking sector were 52.6 trillion yuan (7.5trillion U.S. dollars), an increase of 19.7 percent, or 8.6 trillion yuan, from a year ago.

Last year, deposits grew at a slower pace, as more people transferred their savings to the domestic stock market that nearly doubled. Credit expansion, however, was robust, driven by the double digit economic growth.

Outstanding deposits added 15.2 percent, or 5.3 trillion yuan, to 40.1 trillion yuan. The growth rate was down 0.74 percent from 2006.

Outstanding loans jumped 16.4 percent, or 3.9 trillion yuan, to27.8 trillion yuan.

The proportion of loans to deposits stood at 69.3 percent, up from the 68.5 percent in 2006, but still lower than the regulatory ceiling of 75 percent.

The CBRC said the banking industry earned a total net income of446.7 billion yuan (63.8 billion U.S. dollars) last year, without providing year-earlier figures.

The regulator, however, admitted banks were faced with challenges this year, including the U.S. credit crisis, slowing economic growth and rising inflationary pressure.

The central bank had raised the interest rate six times and the deposits reserve requirement ratio 13 times since last year, amid efforts to rein in inflation and prevent economic overheating.

(Xinhua News Agency May 2, 2008)

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