BEIJING, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- China's central bank has injected a record amount of cash into banks via open market operations this week in a bid to ease liquidity ahead of the upcoming holiday spending spree.
The People's Bank of China on Thursday released 410 billion yuan (65.18 billion U.S. dollars) into the money market through reverse repurchase agreement (repo) operations, in which the central bank buys securities held by commercial banks.
The money added to the 450-billion-yuan worth reverse repos carried out on Tuesday, sends the total cash injection to an all-time weekly high of 860 billion yuan.
The previous record for such a cash injection happened during the last week of October 2012, when reverse repos totaled 568 billion yuan, the central bank's data showed.
Deducting reverse repos worth around 200 billion yuan that matured this week, the bank has injected more than 650 billion yuan in net liquidity, which also marked a record high.
The liquidity was added to alleviate banks' financial strains as cash demand increased sharply ahead of the seven-day Spring Festival holiday, a peak time for consumption due to various celebrations, analysts said. The holiday will last from Feb. 9 to 15.
The overnight Shanghai Interbank Offered Rate (Shibor), which measures the cost of interbank borrowing as a key barometer of liquidity, has gained about 150 basis points since the end of January.
Aware of inflationary risks, the central bank has in recent months resorted to reverse repos, a more cautious monetary tool than lowering banks' reserve requirement ratios, to improve the cash flow.