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China to timely fine-tune monetary policy: central bank

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BEIJING, May 10 (Xinhua) -- China will maintain a prudent monetary policy in the months ahead, while timely and appropriately fine-tuning the policy, the People's Bank of China (PBOC), or the central bank, said Thursday.

The government will make its monetary policy more targeted, flexible and forward-looking, said a report released by the PBOC to address the country's monetary policy adopted in the first quarter.

The statement came as the world's second largest economy is trying to cool inflation while sustaining economic growth. Its first quarter GDP growth hit a nearly three year low of 8.1 percent caused by sagging exports and domestic tightening efforts.

The economy still has many favorable conditions and positive factors to support steady growth, the report said, citing an improving external market and rapid development in the country's central and western regions, it said.

But it also faces lingering uncertainties, which include a correcting property market that will affect growth in the short term, and fluctuating consumer prices, the report said.

Consumer prices may rebound, as prices of labor-intensive agricultural products, service products and resource products tend to surge on rising labor costs, and a volatile global commodity market has kept imported inflationary pressure in place, the report warned.

The growth of China's consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, eased to 3.6 percent in March from a nearly-three-year high of 6.5 percent in July last year. April's CPI data will be released on Friday.

While checking changes in foreign exchange funds and market credit demand, the PBOC will use combined monetary tools such as open market operations and banks' reserve requirement ratio (RRR) to flexibly regulate banking liquidity, it said.

The PBOC will optimize the credit structure to better serve the real economy, directing bank lending to support rural development, small- and micro-sized enterprises, projects designed for public welfare, and emerging industries of strategic importance, it said.

The report said the PBOC will study steps and approaches to further push market-oriented interest rates, and continue efforts to reform exchange rate policy, including increasing the yuan's two-way floating flexibility and reducing its intervention in foreign exchange market.

The PBOC will also work to promote development of a pilot financial reform zone in the eastern city of Wenzhou, encouraging and supporting private capital to go into reforms of local financial institutions and speed up development of new financial organizations, it added.

China approved plans to set up the pilot zone late March as underground private financing activities in Wenzhou, a major source of funding for the nation's small and medium-sized businesses, have stirred up financial disputes and threatened financial and economic stability.

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