China’s central bank kept a key lending rate on hold
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI)
was last up 0.4%, while South Korea’s Kospi (KOSPI)
gained 0.2%. But Japan’s Nikkei 225 (N225)
and China’s Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP)
lost 0.3% and 0.1%, respectively.
The People’s Bank of China didn’t adjust its one-year loan prime rate (LPR), which stands at 4.15%. The five-year LPR also remained steady at 4.8%.
The LPR, which banks charge corporate clients for new loans, is a new benchmark that China introduced in August. It hopes the rate will gradually replace the existing fixed benchmark lending rate, and do a better job in passing on lower rates to borrowers in the corporate sector.
One consideration: While the Chinese economy
is still under pressure, recent government data indicated that momentum picked up
last month. The recent US-China trade truce — while still not a comprehensive deal — is also helping sentiment.
China’s central bank has tried to help its slowing economy by cutting benchmark rates. But the bank is also careful not to flood the market with too much money. It still has to consider other issues, like rising consumer inflation triggered by the country’s pork crisis. African swine fever has ravaged China’s pig population
, driving up pork costs.
While the lending rate is on hold for now, more cuts could still be on the horizon, wrote Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, in a research note Friday.