China's key financial indicators showed stable growth in November, except for the slight slowdown in total social financing, an indication that the fiscal stimulus to weather COVID-19-induced downturn is peaking and monetary policy may gradually return to normal, experts said.
Total social financing, a broad measure of financing for the real economy, reached 2.13 trillion yuan ($325 billion) in November, up 13.6 percent on a yearly basis, but down 0.1 percentage point on a monthly basis, the first monthly drop so far this year, the People's Bank of China, the central bank, said in an announcement.
This could prove to be a turning point for the nation's expansionary credit policy, as the economic recovery continues and monetary authorities turn cautious about the rising debtto-GDP ratio, said the experts.
"Total social financing growth may slow in the coming months, but the monetary policy efforts to support the economic recovery will continue till the first half of next year, lagging behind the credit growth peak," said Zhu Jianfang, chief economist at CITIC Securities.
Since financial regulators are concerned about the leverage levels and are focused on controlling systemic financial risks, the monetary policy may withdraw the special measures launched after the COVID-19 outbreak, said Shen Jianguang, chief economist at JD Digits.
According to PBOC data, the broad money supply, or M2, stood at 217.2 trillion yuan by the end of last month, up by 10.7 percent on a yearly basis. By the end of November, China's outstanding yuan loans rose by 12.8 percent on a yearly basis to 171.49 trillion yuan, the central bank said.
Beijing has ended its "wartime" mode policy easing and moved into a "wait-and-see" mode, said Lu Ting, chief economist in China at Japanese brokerage Nomura Securities."Unless China is hit by a serious second wave of COVID-19, 2021 appears to be a year of policy normalization."
Lu expects the withdrawal of policy stimulus to be gradual and moderate, with only a modest slowdown in credit growth, and believes the authorities will try to contain the growth in interest rates and funding costs to sustain the recovery. He expects the total social financing growth to slow to around 11.5 percent by the end of next year.
Financial regulators are gradually shifting focus to policy reforms and unwinding pandemic-induced support measures as the economy steadily recovers, said Nicholas Zhu, vice-president and senior credit officer at Moody's Investors Service, a global credit ratings agency.
"While China will continue to extend significant support to financial institutions of systemic importance, they will be selective in supporting those that do not pose systemic risks," said Zhu.