Dollar loan demand expected to rise: bankers

TN News

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Vietnamese banks have pushed longer-term dollar deposit rates over 6 percent in the past week, anticipating more demand from firms for dollar loans in coming months at a time of high dong rates, bankers said on Monday.

Small and medium-sized banks have pushed rates on deposits of 12 months or more to around 6 percent from 5 percent, with partly private Navibank leading the race with 6.24 percent, lenders said on their websites.

State-owned lenders and other major banks including BIDV, Agribank and Techcombank were paying less, at between 4.7 percent and 5.05 percent.

Lenders are stepping up efforts to secure liquidity and prepare for credit demand in the early months of the year after the central bank tightened prudential rules, bankers said.

Bankers said lenders would try to boost dollar lending to make up for their shrinking capacity to offer dong loans due to new central bank requirements that allow them to use only about 65 percent of total deposits for lending.

"Businesses' demand for dollar loans may rise after Tet," said a treasury manager at a partly private bank.

Lenders have taken defensive moves over the past month, with several major banks withdrawing long-term dong loans from the interbank market to secure liquidity.

Cash demand traditionally rises before the Lunar New Year, or Tet, the largest festival of the year in Vietnam.

High dong lending rates at between 18 percent and 20 percent have discouraged businesses from borrowing in the past couple of months, bankers said.

Dollar lending rates of around 8 percent have proved more interesting for borrowers, despite foreign exchange risks.

"Firms have shifted to dollar loans, then turned them into dong cash, just like early last year," the manager said.

Dollar loans surged 14.07 percent in the first quarter of last year, versus a rise of 0.57 percent in dong lending, as businesses rushed to borrow dollars to take advantage of the gap between dollar and dong loan rates.

Dollar cash demand has been stable in the past few weeks. "There have been just a few interbank transactions in which several joint-stock banks borrow from state-owned lenders," a trader at a major Hanoi-based bank said.

Overnight interbank rates have stuck at between 0.43 percent and 0.46 percent in the past 22 days, Reuters data showed.

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