Bank lending inched up 0.6 per cent from February to March, as stronger business borrowing offset the continued contraction in consumer loans.
Loans made by banks here - which capture lending in all currencies, but reflect mainly Singapore-dollar lending - came to $676 billion in March compared with $672 billion a month earlier, according to preliminary data from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Total lending in March rose 2.2 per cent over the same month last year, but fell short of the 3.3 per cent year-on-year gains in February.
CIMB Private Banking economist Song Seng Wun said lending typically rebounds after February, when the Chinese New Year holidays eat into the number of working days for the month.
But he said lending will be subdued, given the moderate economic growth.
Maybank Kim Eng economist Chua Hak Bin noted: "Corporate loan growth appears to be stabilising, with tentative signs of green shoots for manufacturing and exports."
But Dr Chua warned that consumer lending continues to weaken and may turn negative in the coming months.
"Stricter property measures, including lower loan-to-value ratios, have hurt property and mortgage demand," he said.