BEIJING, March 12 (Reuters) - Chinese banks extended 1.02 trillion yuan ($162.87 billion) worth of new loans in February, well above market expectations, while growth in broad money supply quickened, central bank data showed on Thursday.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected new local-currency loans to fall to 750 billion yuan in February from 1.47 trillion yuan in January, which marked a lending surge not seen since mid-2009.
Broad M2 money supply (M2) in February rose 12.5 percent from a year ago, beating expectations of 11 percent and quickening from January’s 10.8 percent, which was the weakest since records started in 1998.
Outstanding loan growth was 14.3 percent in February. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected outstanding loans to grow by 13.8 percent, versus the previous month’s 13.9 percent.
The central bank also said that total social financing, a broader measure of overall liquidity in the economy, was 1.35 trillion yuan in February, versus 2.05 trillion yuan in January.
The government has set an economic growth target of around 7 percent for this year, the slowest expansion in a quarter of a century and down from 7.4 percent in 2014, but analysts believe more policy support is needed to avert the risk of a deeper downturn. ($1 = 6.2627 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Kevin Yao and Judy Hua; Editing by Kim Coghill)