China's new yuan loans saw a stable increase last year as the financial sector stepped up efforts to support the real economy, particularly for small firms.
New yuan-denominated lending amounted to 16.17 trillion yuan (2.39 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2018, 2.64 trillion yuan higher than a year ago, Zhu Hexin, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, said Tuesday.
"The increase tripled the amount of the previous year," Zhu noted at a press conference.
By the end of December, China's total outstanding loans rose 13.5 percent year on year, up 0.8 percentage points from 2017.
Financing for small and private enterprises improved. In the first 11 months, small loans increased 17.1 percent year on year, and the number of small firms that secured bank lending gained 28 percent from the end of 2017.
Bond issuance by private enterprises surged 70 percent year-on-year in November and December.
"Financial risks were generally eased, and the macro leverage ratio remained stable," Zhu said.
"As China is likely to face more complicated circumstances, the central bank will maintain prudent monetary policy, neither too tight nor too loose, this year, maintaining ample market liquidity and reasonable growth in social financing.
"On that basis, measures will also be taken to ensure financial stability, further reduce risks and stabilize the macro leverage ratio."