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China seen keeping benchmark LPR unchanged for fourth straight month: Reuters survey

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate steady for the fourth month in a row at its August fixing on Thursday as the economy continues to recover from the coronavirus crisis, a Reuters survey showed.

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a mask walks past the headquarters of the People's Bank of China, the central bank, in Beijing, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, February 3, 2020. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Twenty-eight traders and analysts out of 31 participants in the snap survey this week predicted no change to the one-year Loan Prime Rate (LPR) CNYLPR1Y=CFXS or the five-year tenor CNYLPR5Y=CFXS.

The remaining three respondents expected a marginal 5 basis point cut to both rates.

The one-year LPR is now 3.85% after two cuts this year, while the five-year rate is at 4.65%.

Market expectations for another rate hold were reinforced on Monday after the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) injected more fresh liquidity through its medium-term lending facility (MLF), while keeping borrowing costs unchanged for the fourth straight month.

The MLF is one of the PBOC’s main tools in managing longer-term liquidity in the banking system, and serves as a guide for the LPR. Any adjustment to the MLF should indicate a similar move to the LPR in the same month.

July activity data released last week suggested China’s economic recovery remains on track but may have lost some momentum, with retail sales continuing to contract. But investment is picking up and infrastructure spending in particular is seen accelerating in coming months on the back of government support.

Still, considerable domestic and global uncertainties remain. Lu Ting, chief China economist at Nomura said the PBOC had no intention of tightening its monetary policy for the time being.

“We believe Beijing will continue its ‘wait and see’ approach by neither stepping up nor rolling back its existing policy easing measures,” he said in a note.

“In the meantime, in the face of worsening international relations, Beijing’s policy focus may turn increasingly inwards.”

China’s top decision-making body said in late July that monetary policy would be more flexible and targeted and fiscal policy would be more proactive, prompting many market participants to believe that Beijing has shifted from its emergency stimulus mode to more targeted measures.

The LPR is a lending reference rate set monthly by 18 banks.

All 31 responses in the survey were collected from selected participants on a private messaging platform.

Reporting by Steven Bian, Hongwei Li and Xiangming Hou, writing by Winni Zhou; Editing by Kim Coghill

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