Pressure on Chinese officials to boost stimulus has ratcheted up after credit growth last month tumbled to the second-lowest amount this year amid weak demand and seasonal factors.

Aggregate financing was 1.01 trillion yuan (US$143 billion) last month, compared with about 2.26 trillion yuan in June, the People’s Bank of China said late on Monday.

The median estimate of economists was 1.63 trillion yuan.

Unlike global peers, Chinese policymakers have shown little sign that they are contemplating more aggressive monetary stimulus as they remain focused on keeping a lid on debt and financial stability risks.

As the trade war with the US dents confidence at home and abroad, economists say there is now an increasing need to loosen policy.

“The key constraint has become credit demand,” said Larry Hu (胡偉俊), head of China economics at Macquarie Securities Ltd in Hong Kong. “In the coming months, credit growth would remain constrained by the lack of credit demand until stimulus has to go to Level-3, under which policymakers would artificially create credit demand through loosening shadow banking and property.”

The drop was at least partly due to seasonal patterns, with last month’s credit growth usually slower than that in June. The only month this year with a lower total was February, when Lunar New Year holiday falls.

New yuan loans to the real economy were 808.6 billion yuan last month, down by 477.5 billion yuan from a year earlier, according to the central bank.

“It reflects weak loan demand and tight credit conditions after the credit events in the regional banks,” said Michelle Lam, greater China economist at Societe Generale SA in Hong Kong. “With such a weak set of credit data there is now more pressure on policymakers to deliver more easing.”

Lam said a step-up in property tightening also likely weighed on lending.

Financial institutions offered 1.06 trillion yuan of new loans in the month, versus a projected 1.28 trillion yuan, while banks’ new yuan loans to non-financial enterprises was the lowest since October.

Broad M2 money supply grew 8.1 percent from a year earlier, slower than in June.

Hu said policymakers are pressuring banks to lend, but the banks are finding it hard to do so due to a lack of credit demand and concern over bad loans.

As a result, banks are dishing out short-term lending to fulfill quotas while minimizing credit risks, but such lending “is neither significant nor sustainable,” Hu said.