FRANKFURT, March 27 (Reuters) - Lending to euro zone companies slowed last month while a broader indicator of money circulating in the currency bloc, which often foreshadows future activity, dipped unexpectedly, data showed on Tuesday.
Lending to non-financial corporations expanded by 3.1 percent in February, slowing from a post-crisis high of 3.4 percent a month ago, while household lending growth was steady at 2.9 percent, the European Central Bank said in a regular monthly statement.
Buying nearly 2.5 trillion euro ($3.11 trillion) worth of debt in the past three years, the ECB has laboured away to depress borrowing costs and kick start lending, all in the hope of rekindling inflation.
While its efforts have paid off and lending growth is trending near its best level since the global financial crisis, it remains well below its pre-crisis mark as many banks, under pressure to repair their balance sheets, are still reluctant to lend to the real economy.
The annual growth rate of the M3 measure of money supply, seen by some as a precursor of economic activity, was 4.2 percent, well short of expectations for 4.6 percent.
To read more about this data, please click: here ($1 = 0.8030 euros) (Reporting by Balazs Koranyi Editing by Francesco Canepa)