Euro zone business lending rebounds in February

A money changer counts Euro banknotes at a currency exchange office in Nice
A money changer counts Euro banknotes at a currency exchange office in Nice, France November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

March 28, 2019

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Corporate lending growth in the euro zone rebounded last month, European Central Bank data showed on Thursday, easing fears that banks are stopping the flow of credit to corporations amid a growth slowdown.

Corporate lending expanded by 3.7 percent in February, picking up from 3.4 percent in January, even if the reading remains well short of its post-crisis peak of 4.3 percent hit in September.

With growth slowing on weak export demand for manufactured goods, the ECB has already reversed course, putting plans to normalize policy on hold, announcing instead further stimulus measures to aid a still limping economy.

Fearing that banks will shut the flow of credit to firms amid a slowdown, the ECB unveiled plans to give lenders a new line of ultra cheap loans with the ultimate aim of getting cash to firms so they will continue to invest.

Credit growth to households meanwhile rose to 3.3 percent in February from 3.2 percent a month earlier, suggesting that the slowdown has yet to significantly dent consumer confidence.

The annual growth rate of the M3 measure of money supply, which often foreshadows future activity, surged to 4.3 percent from 3.8 percent a month earlier and beating expectations for 3.9 percent.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Francesco Canepa)

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