Foreign Investors On Alert As China Unusually Withdraws Cash From Banks

By Thea Felicity

Mar 15, 2024 11:53 AM EDT

Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Masatsugu Asakawa (L) speaks during a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on July 11, 2023.
(Photo : Photo by MARK SCHIEFELBEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

China's central bank, the People's Bank of China (PBOC), has withdrawn 94 billion yuan ($13 billion) from the banking system using a medium-term liquidity tool. Per BNN Bloomberg, this unusual move signals China's cautious approach to boosting economic growth and its commitment to stabilizing the yuan.

What Are The Implications of China's Bank Withdrawal?

While the PBOC kept the rate on its one-year policy loans steady at 2.5%, this decision may disappoint investors and economists hoping for more aggressive stimulus measures to help China reach its targeted economic growth of around 5% for the year, as reported by VCPost.

Investors have also been expecting China to lower interest rates due to several economic challenges, including deflationary pressures, a long-standing property crisis, and weak demand. 

Now, China's sudden bank withdrawal means that the People's Bank of China (PBOC) is finding it difficult to relax its monetary policies further. This is mainly because of the notable difference in interest rates between the United States and China. 

The difference in interest rates between the United States and China has contributed to a decline in the value of the yuan and increased the outflow of capital from China. This situation has been exacerbated by a slower economic recovery than initially anticipated.

Following this action, the Chinese yuan remained stable both onshore and offshore. However, Chinese stocks declined, with the CSI 300 Index losing up to 0.8% and the Hang Seng Index dropping as much as 2.1% in Hong Kong.

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Limited Options for China's Central Bank As Yuan Falls

Lynn Song, the Chief Economist for Greater China at ING, indicates that the People's Bank of China (PBOC) may have limited options for further easing its policies before other central banks worldwide begin to cut rates. 

In the near future, the central bank might decrease the reserve-requirement ratio before considering reducing rates on the Medium-term Lending Facility (MLF).

Despite efforts by Chinese authorities to support it, the value of the Chinese yuan has dropped by approximately 1% this year. This decline comes as expectations of a rate cut by the US Federal Reserve have lessened due to strong inflation in the United States. 

Investors, anticipating further easing measures in China, have caused yields on the country's government bonds to reach their lowest levels in about twenty years.

While the country's economy has shown signs of recovery, including a rise in consumer prices in February and better-than-expected exports, establishing a sustainable trend will require solid data in the coming months.

Chinese authorities are likely to assess the impact of previous stimulus measures before taking further action, especially following the conclusion of Beijing's most important annual political event. Economic data released next Monday will provide more insights into China's economic conditions.

READ MORE: U.S. And China Relations In Danger After Threat of Espionage and Economic Challenge

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