April bank lending rises7% year on year

Better economic outlook boosts business and consumer loans

Bank lending in April grew at its fastest pace in more than two years, driven by a pick-up in both business and consumer loans amid a better economic outlook.

Total bank loans rose to $631.2 billion, up 7 per cent compared with $589.8 billion in April last year, according to preliminary data from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) yesterday.

This marked the largest year-on- year increase since December 2014. Bank lending growth has been picking up in recent months, rising 5.2 per cent year on year in February and 6.3 per cent in March.

This comes as Singapore's economic growth outlook seems to be taking a turn for the better.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has said that this year's growth is likely to be above 2 per cent. That sits at the higher end of its 1 to 3 per cent forecast for the full year and surpasses last year's modest 2 per cent.

Lending to businesses expanded for the fifth straight month in April to $379.4 billion, a 9.5 per cent rise from a year earlier. Manufacturing-sector loans slid 6.8 per cent, but this was offset by strong increases elsewhere.

Lending to business-services firms surged 27.1 per cent to $8.7 billion, while loans to financial institutions went up 28.1 per cent year on year to reach $90.1 billion.

Loans to the general commerce sector rose year on year for the third consecutive month, growing 17.2 per cent from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, consumer loans rose 3.6 per cent year on year in April to reach $251.8 billion, supported mainly by an increase in mortgages and credit-card interest payments.

Housing and bridging loans rose 4 per cent year on year to reach $193.4 billion, while credit-card loans grew to $10.4 billion from $9.8 billion a year earlier.

Car loans also ticked up, rising 1.3 per cent year on year to $7.9 billion.

Economists had previously noted that the recalibration of some property cooling measures in March could lend further momentum to loan growth in the coming months.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2017, with the headline 'April bank lending rises7% year on year'. Print Edition | Subscribe