March bank lending slowest in 17 mths

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BANK lending in March grew at its slowest pace in 17 months as loans for production activities eased from February, the central bank said.

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Data for March from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed a 13.7-percent rise in outstanding loans granted by commercial banks, excluding reverse repurchase placements (RRP) with the central bank, slower than the 15.2-percent increase recorded in February.

This marks the slowest growth pace in bank lending since October 2013, when it was recorded at 13.6 percent.

Including RRPs, or money lent to the BSP, growth in bank lending was still slower at 13.2 percent compared with the 14.6-percent increase recorded in the month earlier.

“On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, commercial bank lending increased by 0.1 percent for both loans net of RRPs and loans inclusive of RRPs,” the BSP said in a statement.

Lending for production activities—which comprised more than 80 percent of the banks’ aggregate loan portfolio—grew by 13.3 percent in March after rising by 14.5 percent in February. Growth in production loans was driven primarily by the following sectors: real estate, renting, and business services; manufacturing; wholesale and retail trade, electricity, gas and water; and financial intermediation.

Bank lending to other sectors also rose during the month, except for public administration and defense, which declined by 2.3 percent, it said.

On the other hand, loans for household consumption grew by 18.8 percent from 21.1 percent in February amid continued growth in credit card loans and other types of loans like salary and personal loans.

“Going forward, the BSP will continue to ensure that credit and liquidity conditions remain supportive of overall economic growth in a manner consistent with the BSP’s price and financial stability objectives,” the central bank said.

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