China's central bank announced Tuesday that it had lent 245.5 billion yuan (35.93 billion U.S. dollars) to 22 financial institutions via medium-term lending facility (MLF) to keep liquidity basically stable.
The MLF operation included 138.5 billion that will mature in six months and 107 billion that will mature in one year, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said.
The interest rates stood at 2.95 percent for the six-month MLFs and 3.1 percent for the one-year MLFs, both were 10 basis points (bp) higher than previous MLF issues.
This is the first time that the central bank has increased the MLF interest rates, according to Wen Bin, a researcher at China Minsheng Bank, aiming to control credit growth and financial leverage.
The move will ease seasonal liquidity tension in the financial system ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan. 28 this year, Wen said.
The MLF tool was first introduced in 2014 to help commercial and policy banks maintain liquidity by allowing them to borrow from the central bank by using securities as collateral.
Last week, the central bank had already provided provisional liquidity support to several big commercial banks to meet rising cash demand.