BEIJING, Feb. 2 -- The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world's largest lender by market value, said Monday it extended 110 billion yuan (16.1 billion U.S. dollars) of new loans in January, less than the amount in the same period of 2009.
"The lending growth in January was stable and moderate, which has well satisfied the real economic demand," the bank said.
The ICBC statistics showed lendings of the bank totaled 117.1 billion yuan in January 2009.
The bank said it would focus on financing ongoing government projects and continue to extend more loans to small businesses, while strictly controlling loans to new projects and high energy-consuming and polluting industries.
ICBC last Wednesday said its loan growth in early and mid-January was "a little fast" as many ongoing projects needed funds, but the lending pace had stabilized since, as a concentrated volume of existing loans had come due and some credit card debts had been repaid.
It also announced it would maintain a "reasonable and balanced" lending rate in a move to ease mounting public concerns about possible credit cuts.
To prevent economic overheating, the government last month announced it would restrict its overall credit growth to 7.5 trillion yuan in 2010, compared with last year's 9.59 trillion yuan.
However, a report from Monday's Economic Information Daily said that as of Jan. 29, Chinese banks had already extended nearly 1.6 trillion yuan new loans this year.