(Bloomberg) -- Chinese banks cut a key interest rate for long-term loans by a record amount, a move that would reduce mortgage costs and may boost weak loan demand amid a property slump and Covid lockdowns.
The five-year loan prime rate, a reference for home mortgages, was lowered to 4.45% from 4.6%, down by the most since a revamp of the rate in 2019, according to a statement by the People’s Bank of China Friday. A majority of economists surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted a cut by five to 10 basis points.
The one-year loan prime rate -- the de facto benchmark lending rate -- was kept unchanged at 3.7%. The majority of economists surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted a cut of either five or 10 basis points.
The cut comes after the PBOC reduced the floor on the rate for new mortgages Sunday in an attempt to spur demand for new loans, which dropped in April.
The LPRs are based on interest rates that 18 banks offer their best customers, and were last reduced in January following a cut in PBOC’s policy loan rates. While the central bank kept rates unchanged on May 16, banks’ funding costs have come down in recent weeks, giving them scope to lower rates.
Read more: Rare China Mortgage Rate Cut May Do Little to Stop Housing Slump
The reduction in loan rates would help reduce business and consumers’ borrowing costs and may boost demand for loans and support economic activity. The economy has taken a heavy hit from measures to contain the worst Covid outbreak since early 2020 and an ongoing property market slump also curbed borrowing, with loan growth weakening sharply in April to the worst level in almost five years.
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