China's finance ministry recently surveyed financial institutions about a sovereign bond issuance plan for next year, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said on Friday.

China's bond issuance plans have attracted growing market attention after the government lifted its fiscal deficit for 2023 in October to free up more funds to kick-start the sputtering economy.

In a surprise move, China in late October approved 1 trillion yuan ($140.11 billion) of sovereign bond issuance for this year -- its first such fiscal deficit expansion within the year in 23 years -- and passed a bill to allow local governments to frontload part of their 2024 bond quotas.

The recent survey was conducted in a closed-door meeting hosted by the Ministry of Finance and was meant to ensure smooth and stable government bond supply into the new year, the sources said.

"There is no final conclusion yet, while it is not the (routine) fourth-quarter meeting (that usually sets the guidelines on annual bond issuance)," said one of the sources.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media. They did not give more specifics of the exchanges with the ministry officials.

China's Ministry of Finance did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

Since China's October bond announcement, it has issued more than 1.2 trillion yuan worth of various government bonds in each of October and November, and is set to complete the additional bond issuance within this year. ($1 = 7.1375 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Beijing and Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Kim Coghill)