MILAN, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Non-performing loans at Italian banks rose 15.2 percent from a year earlier last December, slowing the pace of increase after an 18.4 percent rise the previous month, Bank of Italy data showed on Monday.
Italy's government is studying ways to help domestic banks offload bad loans, which totalled 183.67 billion euros ($208.5 billion) at the end of last year based on Monday's figures, in the hope of spurring credit to firms.
Bank loans to non-financial companies in Italy fell for the 32th month running in December but the pace of contraction eased to its slowest in two years.
The Bank of Italy said that lending to companies fell 2.3 percent in December after a 2.6 percent declined in November.($1 = 0.8810 euros) (Reporting by Valentina Za, editing by Francesca Landini)