Chinese lenders’ short-term household loan grew by a record 429.4 billion yuan (US$54.7 billion) in March. Handout.

Short-term household loans, which are mainly personal consumer loans, grew by a record 429.4 billion yuan (US$54.7 billion) in March.

The growth is partly attributed to the shifting focus of commercial banks toward retail businesses amid the economic slow down, an insider was quoted as saying in a Xinhua News Agency report.

Consumer loans can provide relatively a lower non-performing ratio with a higher profit margin than corporate loans during economic downturns. In addition, technology has made personal loans much more accessible, he added.

However, some industry insiders suspect that some of the new consumer loans may actually be used for stock investments.

People are rushing to open accounts at securities brokers as the A-share stock market index has risen by about 30% since the beginning of the year.

In addition, the property market has also warmed up in recent months. Given the lenders’ limited measures to monitor usage of personal loans, it’s hard to tell whether the stock market or property market are being fuelled by loans, the insider said.

In the meantime, mid- to long-term household loans reached 460.5 billion yuan, according to official data.

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