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Central bank chief hints policy flexibility amid deflation risk

2015-03-13 08:44 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

When Chinese central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan speaks, the market listens.

As China walks the economic tightrope of balancing steady growth, facilitating restructuring and combating deflation risks, Zhou said there may be room for flexibility despite consistent championing of a prudent monetary policy.[Special coverage]


Speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress (NPC) annual session, Zhou said there would be some room for flexible adjustments of the prudent monetary policy.

His remarks were largely in line with the language used in the widely-scrutinized government report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang to lawmakers at the opening of the parliamentary session.

"The M2 money supply is forecast to grow by around 12 percent in 2015, but the actual supply may be slightly higher than this projection depending on the needs of economic development," noted the report.

M2, a broad measure of money supply that covers cash in circulation and all deposits, first found its way to the annual report in 2010.

This is the first time that the government has used the wording:"slightly higher than this projection depending on the needs of economic development" since the M2.

Zhou stressed that China is sticking to its prudent monetary policy despite the use of a string of new monetary policy tools unfamiliar to the public, adding that compared with the large size of Chinese economy, the scale of those policy tools is not big.

With slowing growth pace, the economy has entered a "new normal" era, however, this does not mean the economy is troubled by a particular problem nor that the monetary policy will shift gears, he said.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 7.4 percent last year, its lowest level since 1990. The annual economic growth target for 2015 was set at around 7 percent, half a percentage point lower than last year.

The press conference follows the release of economic data for January and February, which was far from optimistic.

Industrial output in the world's second largest economy grew 6.8 percent year on year in January-February, down 1.1 percentage points compared to December. Retail sales expanded 10.7 percent in the first two months from a year earlier, also down from 11.9 percent registered for December.

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