Bank loans up 6.3% last month

Crowds at an IT fair in Singapore. Consumer loans inched up 0.2 per cent year on year to $251.37 billion last month.
Crowds at an IT fair in Singapore. Consumer loans inched up 0.2 per cent year on year to $251.37 billion last month.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Year-on-year rise on stronger lending in business service, general commerce, logistics

Singapore bank loans rose 6.3 per cent last month from a year earlier, on the back of stronger lending to businesses, especially firms in the business service, general commerce and logistics sectors, central bank data showed yesterday.

The level of bank lending - both to businesses and consumers - is generally regarded as an important indicator of economic activity.

Loans and advances by domestic banking units amounted to $627.9 billion last month, rising from $590.58 billion a year earlier, according to figures from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Business loans increased by 8.1 per cent to $376.58 billion last month from $348.37 billion a year earlier.

"The last few years of an economic slow grind have bottomed out and the hard data gives some reassurance that there are pockets of activity, which has spurred lending," said CIMB economist Song Seng Wun.

Much of that rise in activity appeared to have been in the business service sector. Loans to the industry soared 21.6 per cent year on year to $8.45 billion last month.

Loans to the general commerce sector also rose at a rapid clip, up 15.5 per cent from a year ago to $65.59 billion last month.

POSITIVE SIGNS

The last few years of an economic slow grind have bottomed out and the hard data gives some reassurance that there are pockets of activity, which has spurred lending.

CIMB ECONOMIST SONG SENG WUN, on the pickup in local lending.

Loans to the transport, storage and communication sector grew at a robust 12 per cent year on year, to reach $21.6 billion last month.

Loans to financial institutions meanwhile climbed 24.3 per cent to $87.6 billion last month and loans to the building and construction industry grew 2.5 per cent year on year to $123 billion.

Loans to manufacturers, however, dipped 2.6 per cent to $26.3 billion. Consumer loans edged up 0.2 per cent year on year to $251.37 billion in March.

Housing and bridging loans were slightly higher at $193.08 billion from $192.78 billion.

Total bank lending for last month was little changed from February, when it was $627.43 billion.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2017, with the headline 'Bank loans up 6.3% last month'. Print Edition | Subscribe