Bank lending up again in euro zone

FRANKFURT • Bank lending across the euro zone improved further in June as home buyers dashed for cheap loans and brushed off uncertainty over Greece, European Central Bank (ECB) data showed yesterday.

The picture for credit in the bloc has been gradually improving since late 2014 after the ECB embarked on asset purchases, which it later expanded into a trillion-plus euro programme that includes sovereign bonds.

The quantitative easing scheme has fuelled demand in particular for assets that offer a high return and tend to rise in value along with inflation, such as property.

Lending growth for home loans was up 1.6 per cent in June, shooting up from growth of 0.1 per cent two months earlier. Consumer credit too grew at 1.8 per cent, compared to a slight contraction in April.

The latest data suggests consumers have largely ignored political troubles in Greece, which had closed down its banks and came close to falling out of the currency bloc before securing a last-minute bridging loan earlier this month.

"Despite Greece, China and other irritants, the euro zone recovery is on track and looks set to pick up some extra momentum later this year," Berenberg economist Holger Schmieding said.

Yet the effects of money printing are not felt evenly throughout the economy and companies still struggle to borrow. Lending to companies fell by 0.2 per cent in June. This was, however, a slower pace of decline for the 11th month in a row. REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2015, with the headline 'Bank lending up again in euro zone'. Subscribe