China's bank lending declined sharply in December from November, the central bank said on Friday, despite moves to keep the world's second largest economy from slowing further with looser monetary policy.
New loans extended by banks slid to 597.8 billion yuan ($91.1 billion) in December, against 708.9 billion yuan in November, the People's Bank of China said.
"The lower-than-expected new loans suggest that credit demand remained weak," ANZ Banking Group said in a research note, adding that commercial banks were reluctant to lend given increasing risk.
China has cut interest rates six times since late 2014 and has also lowered the proportion of reserves that banks must set aside, in an effort to boost lending and revitalise the flagging economy.
The country's yuan-denominated lending for all of 2015 reached 11.72 trillion yuan, figures showed, which the official Xinhua news agency described as a new high.
China's total social financing -- the broadest measure of credit in the economy -- was 1.82 trillion yuan in December, the central bank said, higher than 1.02 trillion yuan in November and above the median forecast of 1.15 trillion yuan according to a Bloomberg News survey.
"Lending to the real economy remained strong at the end of last year, which should help support economic activity in the coming months," Capital Economics said in a research note.
China's economic growth hit a 24-year low in 2014 and the country logged its worst economic performance since the global financial crisis in the third quarter of 2015, with gross domestic product (GDP) expanding 6.9 percent.
The government will announce fourth quarter and 2015 GDP figures on Tuesday.