July 23, 2020 / 8:48 AM / 23 days ago

China's ICBC cuts average loan rate to 4.31% to support economy

FILE PHOTO: People walk past a sign of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) at the venue for the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, China October 31, 2019. Picture taken October 31, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the country’s largest bank by assets, slashed its average interest rate by 45 basis points to 4.31% in the first half of 2020, bank president Gu Shu said on Thursday.

The lower loan rate comes as Beijing encourages lenders to buffer the real economy from the impact from the COVID-19 epidemic.

The bank’s outstanding loans to the manufacturing sector totaled 1.85 trillion yuan (207.32 billion pounds) as of the end of June, up 14% from the beginning of the year, Gu told reporters at a briefing.

Its new loans to small and micro-sized enterprises totaled 168.4 billion yuan in the first half, up 35.7% from a year earlier, Gu said.

Reporting by Kevin Huang and Ryan Woo; writing by Zhang Yan; editing by Jason Neely

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