Rating’s agency Moody’s expects the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the asset quality of banks to make themselves apparent in six months time.
An online meeting held by Moody’s in conjunction with China Cheng Xin International Credit (CCXI) said that overall profits in the Chinese banking sector were weakening as a result of an economic downturn and narrowing interest rate spreads.
Moody’s analyst Li Yan (李燕) said she expects asset quality risk in the banking sector to be reflected in the second half of 2020 as well as the first half of next year, alongside an increasingly varied performance amongst Chinese lenders.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020 China’s banking sector has yet to see sizeable rise in non-performing loans (NPL).
Data from the Chinese central bank indicates that as of the end of June the NPL balance of the Chinese banking sector was 3.6 trillion yuan, for an NPL ratio of 2.1%, and a rise of 0.8 percentage points compared to the start of the year.
The provision coverage ratio was 178.1% as of the end of June, for a decline of 4 percentage points.
Li Yan said that the reason for the muted rise in NPL’s is that they only tend to come to light following a six to nine month delay, while the big Chinese banks are still capable of using existing provisions to absorb NPL’s.
Regulators have been highly concerned about the uncertain health of China’s regional banks since May 2019, when the problems of Inner Mongolia’s Baoshang Bank prompted Beijing to launch a forcible takeover.
A report from S&P Global indicates that in the first quarter municipal commercial banks saw the fastest rise in non-performing loans (NPL), with a rise to 2.45% by the end of March as compared to 1.88% a year previously.
At least 16 regional banks in China have posted negative growth in net profits for the first half of 2020.