• Eurozone private sector growth picks up – ECB

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    FRANKFURT: Growth of loans to the private sector in the euro area picked up modestly in February, European Central Bank (ECB) data showed on Tuesday.

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    For the ECB, the statistics are a key indicator of the economic health of the single currency area, as borrowing is a main financing source for corporate investment which in turn should boost the eurozone’s currently weak economy.

    In February, approved loans rose 1.1 percent from a year ago, slightly faster than growth of 0.8 percent in January, an ECB statement said.

    When certain strictly financial transactions are stripped out from the loans data, the trend remained the same—with credit accorded to households and companies up 0.9 percent in February, compared with 0.6 percent in January.

    The ECB has launched a raft of policy measures to get credit flowing, most significantly a massive program to buy public sector bonds to pump liquidity into the system.

    The ECB already extended that program by a further six months in a bid to drive eurozone inflation higher.

    But earlier this month, ECB chief Mario Draghi announced a further expansion of the program, a new cut in interest rates and an additional cheap loan scheme for banks.

    Growth in the overall money supply, known as M3, stood at 5.0 percent in February, the same rate of growth as in January, the ECB also said Tuesday.

    The ECB regards M3 money supply as a barometer for future inflation.

    AFP

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