Data released Thursday showed new loans extended by Chinese banks in March reached RMB1.01 trillion (US$160.1 billion), well above analyst expectations of RMB797.5 billion (US$126.4 billion) and a sharp reversal from the RMB710.7 billion (US$112.7 billion) doled out in February, Bloomberg reported. M2, the broadest measure of China’s money supply, rose 13.4% year-on-year in March, while the country’s foreign exchange reserves hit a record US$3.31 trillion as of March 31, marking a turnaround from a dip in the fourth quarter of last year. Many analysts saw the higher lending figures as a sign that Beijing is easing monetary and fiscal policy to boost the economy. “Policy makers have taken preemptive measures to ensure the growth slowdown doesn’t become excessive,” said Dariusz Kowalcyzk, a strategist at Credit Agricole. Separately, the US Commerce Department said that the country’s trade deficit shrank in February, in part owing to lower imports from China.