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     BEIJING (MNI) - Chinese bankers are more confident about the country's
economic outlook, according to the results of a quarterly survey of bankers at
about 3,200 bank branches by the People's Bank of China published on Tuesday.
     An index that measures bankers' confidence in macroeconomic developments
rose 3.8 percentage points from the third quarter to 79.1% in the fourth
quarter, the central bank said in a statement on its website. Any index reading
above 50 suggests respondents are optimistic.
     As for the "economic temperature" of the country, 79.1% of the bankers
surveyed indicated the current economy was at a "normal" temperature, 4.2
percentage points higher than in the third quarter, and 19.2% of bankers said
they thought the economy was "cold," 4.3 percentage points lower than in the
previous quarter. 
     The survey also found that fewer Chinese bankers think monetary policy has
been tightened, with 19.1% believing that to be the case, three percentage
points lower than in the previous quarter. Nearly 78.6% believe monetary policy
is "appropriate," 3.6 percentage points higher than the previous quarter.
     The PBOC said demand for bank loans expanded in the fourth quarter based on
the survey, with its index measuring loan demand increasing to 65.7%, compared
with a reading of 64.2% in the third quarter.
     The banking industry "Climate Index" stood at 68.3%, 2.5 percentage points
higher than the previous quarter and 4.4 percentage points higher than the same
period last year, the survey showed. 
     In its household survey covering 20,000 families, the PBOC said more people
-- 32.0% -- expect housing prices to rise over the next quarter, a slight
increase from 31.8% in the third quarter. Under these expectations, the survey
also found that more people plan to buy a house in the next three months, with
the ratio of would-be buyers at 23.2%, up from 22.5% in the previous quarter.
     An index measuring how people feel about their current income edged up 0.8
percentage points to 53.6%. Some 88.9% respondents indicated that their incomes
were higher or unchanged, an increase of 2.3 percentage points over the third
quarter. The index measuring confidence in future income rose to 54.9%, up 1.6
percentage points from the third quarter.
     The Q4 employment index rose 2.3 percentage points to 44.9%, and the index
on employment expectations rose 2.6 percentage points to 53.4%, the PBOC
statement said.
     Another PBOC survey of Chinese businesspeople found they are also more
confident about the economy. The confidence index for entrepreneurs from about
5,000 enterprises rose to 71.8% in the fourth quarter, 3.1 percentage points
higher than the third quarter and 17.6 percentage points higher than the same
period last year.
--MNI Beijing Bureau; +86 10 85325998; email: he.wei@marketnews.com
--MNI Beijing Bureau; +86 (10) 8532-5998; email: vince.morkri@marketnews.com
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