China Cuts Rates, Injects Liquidity as Mainland Markets Sink

China reduced rates as it injected cash into the financial system Monday, with the central bank seeking to ensure ample liquidity as markets plunge. It cut borrowing costs on the funds by 10 basis points.

The People’s Bank of China added 900 billion yuan ($129 billion) of funds with seven-day reverse repurchase agreements at 2.4%, according to a statement. It also injected 300 billion yuan with 14-day contracts at 2.55%. While the total is the largest single-day addition of its kind in data going back to 2004, it implies a net injection of just 150 billion yuan as more than 1 trillion yuan of short-term funds mature.

The Chinese government is grappling with a deadly virus outbreak that has taken at least 361 lives in the country, infected more than 17,000 and forced a shutdown of many of its major cities. Authorities have pledged to provide abundant liquidity and urged investors to evaluate the impact of the coronavirus objectively.

“The swift response by the PBOC suggests it is very keen support the economy by lowering the overall cost of funding,” said Becky Liu, head of China macro strategy at Standard Chartered (LON:STAN) Bank (HK) Ltd. “Cash bonds will likely continue to outperform in the near term,” with the 10-year government yield likely to drop to 2.6%. That would imply the lowest yield since 2002.

Chinese stocks and commodity futures sank Monday as trading restarted following the holiday break. The onshore bond and currency markets also opened Monday for the first time since Jan. 23, with the yuan weakening through 7 per dollar. The yield on China’s most actively traded 10-year government bonds plunged 18 basis points to 2.8%. That’s the largest decline since 2014.