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Bank caps credit growth in battle to cool the economy
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The Industrial & Commercial Bank of China will cap an about 10 percent credit growth this year to move in line with the country's tight monetary policy, the bank said yesterday.

The bank's credit grew 10.8 percent last year.

New credit facilities will be offered to infrastructure, modern manufacture and energy-saving sectors. On individual mortgages, loans will be offered to first-time buyers, the Beijing-based bank said.

The People's Bank of China is tightening credit including window guidelines to give limited credit quota to commercial banks.

China is tightening credit to fight inflation and ward off a credit-driven overheating economy.

China's M2, the board measure of money supply including cash, rose 16.72 percent last year.

Its economy rose 11.4 percent, the fastest since 1994.

The consumer price index, the main gauge of inflation, advanced 4.8 percent in 2007 from a year earlier, outstripping the government's three percent target.

Chinese banks are expanding their fee-based income channels amid a shift from a credit-powered model to compete with overseas rivals which are strong in wealth management services.

The deeper of the fee-based income business will be among the priorities of ICBC's agenda this year.

The country's biggest bank will offer 8,000 new self-service equipment including automatic teller machines and cash receiving systems this year.

The bank's wealth management products topped 1.1 trillion yuan (US$153 billion) last year, skyrocketing 150 percent on China's booming capital market.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose more than 80 percent last year after soaring 130 percent in 2006.

The red-hot stock market boosted the sales of wealth management products linked to the capital market as residents are channeling deposits to wealth management products, funds and the stock market.

The bank's credit cards in circulation were 13 million more than last year to boost the total to about 23 million cards.

Its investment banking income rose 57 percent year on year to more than four billion yuan.

ICBC ended at 6.73 yuan in Shanghai yesterday, up 3.06 percent. Shares of ICBC lost 17.2 percent this year while the Shanghai Composite Index shed 17.9 percent this year.

(Shanghai Daily February 2, 2008)

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