China’s central bank increased its injection of short-term cash into the financial system after concern over a debt crisis at China Evergrande Group roiled global markets.
The People’s Bank of China injected 120 billion yuan ($18.6 billion) into the banking system through reverse repurchase agreements, exceeding the 30 billion yuan of maturities on Wednesday. While Evergrande’s onshore property unit said Wednesday it had a plan to repay interest due Sept. 23 on domestic notes, the company’s debt crisis sent Hong Kong and U.S. stocks tumbling earlier this week when China was closed for holidays. The central bank added 100 billion yuan on both Friday and Saturday.
“The PBOC kept its net injection against a possible market plunge,” said Zhaopeng Xing, senior China strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. “This will soothe the tightness and keep liquidity loose. Next week will see big fiscal spending flows, which will solve the quarter-end liquidity issue.”
The need to calm market jitters is pressing amid losses in China-related equities worldwide. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, a gauge of Chinese shares traded in Hong Kong, slumped more than 3% when the mainland was shut Monday and Tuesday, even as Wall Street analysts sought to reassure investors that Evergrande won’t lead to a Lehman moment.
China’s cash operations have been aimed at striking a balance between spurring growth hurt by fresh virus outbreaks and tighter regulations, while preventing asset bubbles. Authorities also tend to loosen their grip on liquidity toward quarter-end due to increased demand for cash from banks for regulatory checks. Lenders also need to hoard more funds ahead of the one-week holiday at the start of October.
Evergrande’s onshore property unit will repay the interest on its bonds Thursday. That came after the firm missed interest payments due Monday to at least two of its largest bank creditors, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing private information.
Uncertainty over how financial troubles at China’s largest property developer — with $300 billion of liabilities — would be resolved has swelled as the authorities have refrained from providing any public assurances on a state-led resolution. China’s slowing economy has compounded investor angst. Still, many analysts — including those at Citigroup Inc., Barclays Plc and UBS Group AG — say the Evergrande crisis isn’t likely to be the country’s “Lehman moment.”
Simply boosting liquidity won’t be enough to solve the Evergrande crisis by itself, said Ding Shuang, chief economist for Greater China and North Asia at Standard Chartered Plc in Hong Kong.
“What the market hopes the government will do is to come up with a plan that can help the company restructure and refinance in a smooth way,” he said. “China’s bottom line is that it won’t allow the Evergrande issue to turn into a full-fledged financial crisis or let it trigger any systemic risks.”