China's Big 5 banks speed pace of bad loan exits

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank (CICHY, CICHF), Agricultural Bank of China (ACGBY, ACGBF), Bank of China (BACHF, BACHY), and Bank of Communications (BKFCF, BCMXY) together shed nearly ¥64B ($10.5B) of bad loans last year, two and one-half times the amount in 2012, and the pace isn't expected to slow in 2014. A number of high-profile defaults in recent weeks remind of the slowing economy and deteriorating financial health in a number of key sectors.

Still, four of the five posted double-digit profit growth last year (the other grew profit at 7%), giving the lenders room to take write-offs.

"Industries with overcapacity problems were and will be the main sources of nonperforming loans," says S&P analyst Liao Qiang. "These industries including the steel sector will witness a large increase in bad loans in the next two to three years."

The Global X China Financials ETF (CHIX) is off 9% YTD.

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