Singapore bank lending shrinks for 6th straight month in March

A general view of the Raffles Place financial district in Singapore, on March 31, 2016.
A general view of the Raffles Place financial district in Singapore, on March 31, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Singapore bank lending slid year-on-year for the sixth consecutive month in March as loans to both consumers and businesses fell amid sluggish economic growth.

Overall loans contracted 1.74 per cent last month over a year ago.

Business loans fell for seven straight months, making this the longest streak of year-on-yearcontraction since 1999, which saw six consecutive months of business loan declines between November 1999 and April 2000.

March bank lending amounted to S$590.6 billion, from S$601.1 billion in the same month last year.

Last month's figure also came in below February's S$596.2 billion, data from the Monetary Authority of Singapore on Friday showed.

Business loans in March stood at S$348.4 billion, down 4.2 per cent from a year ago and 1.6 per cent from the preceding month.

Compared with February, loans to firms in the transport, storage and communications sector as well as financial institutions fell.

Consumer lending in March came in at S$242.2 billion - flat compared with February, but up from S$237.6 billion a year ago.

Housing and bridging loans, the largest component of loans to consumers, was also flat in March compared with February, at S$185.3 billion.