Bank loans up after two months

Members of the public using the UOB ATM machines which are located next to DBS bank at Toa Payoh Central. PHOTO:ST FILE

Bank loans inched back up in November after falling for two straight months, boosted by lending to construction firms and share financing.

Year-end shopping also looked to be a big driver of lending activity - credit card payments rose 2 per cent from October to $10.2 billion in November, greatly outpacing the 0.3 per cent gain in total consumer loans. Despite the year-end market lull, there was a sharp 12 per cent rise in share financing to $932.2 million, while housing and bridging loans increased 0.4 per cent from October to $184.3 billion.

These helped boost consumer loans as a whole to $242.3 billion.

Car loans, however, continued to fall, this time slipping 0.3 per cent from October to $7.85 billion.

Loans to businesses also recovered after declines in September and October, edging up 0.4 per cent to $360.2 billion.

Lending to almost all industries grew, except for general commerce, for which loans fell 0.9 per cent to $69.8 billion, and business services, which took on $7.2 billion in loans, 1.4 per cent lower than in October.

These were offset by a particularly healthy rise in loans to financial services firms, with loans to the sector climbing 2.1 per cent to $$69.7 billion.

The building and construction industry also chalked up among the highest gains in borrowing. Firms in the sector borrowed $120 billion, up 0.5 per cent from October.

Loans to manufacturing firms also rose 0.5 per cent from October, to $30 billion.

Despite the turnaround in loan numbers, a year-on-year comparison shows the mark that the uncertain economic outlook has made in bank lending, especially to the business community.

Compared with the same period a year ago, total loans in November fell 0.7 per cent, dragged down by a 3 per cent fall in loans to businesses.

Consumer loans, however, are up 3 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

Follow ST on LinkedIn and stay updated on the latest career news, insights and more.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2016, with the headline Bank loans up after two months. Subscribe