BEIJING, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Chinese banks strengthened financial support for agriculture, small-and-micro enterprises and affordable housing projects last year.
Outstanding agriculture-related loans stood at 28.2 trillion yuan (about 4.1 trillion U.S. dollars) at the end of 2016, up 7.1 percent year on year, according to a statement posted on the website of the China Banking Regulatory Commission. Outstanding loans to small-and-micro firms hit 26.7 trillion yuan, up 13.8 percent.
Lending to affordable housing projects surged 58.7 percent from a year ago, well above the average loan growth of 12.8 percent.
China has channeled more energy into fostering agricultural development and small businesses, with financial support playing a significant role.
The People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, said on Tuesday that it will extend a favorable policy that allows banks with big lending to small and agricultural firms to enjoy a lower cash reserve ratio.
The statement also showed falling bad loan ratio and better profit of banks last year.
Chinese lenders saw the ratio of their non-performing loans fall to 1.74 percent at the end of 2016, slightly down from 1.76 percent a quarter ago.
Banks reported faster profit growth thanks to a firming economy. Net profits of commercial lenders increased 3.54 percent year on year, up 1.11 percentage points from a year ago.