MILAN, June 17 (Reuters) - Lending by Italian banks continued to fall in May, marking the 25th consecutive monthly drop despite a pick-up in new mortgages in the first four months of the year, banking association ABI said on Tuesday.
Loans to families and non-financial companies fell 2.1 percent last month, the same rate seen in April.
However, new mortgage loans jumped 26.5 percent in the first four months of 2014 from a year earlier, ABI calculated on data coming from lenders representing 80 percent of the total.
“We’re starting to see some positive signs in real estate loans, this means the economy may be approaching a turning point,” said ABI Chief Economist Gianfranco Torriero.
The transition, however, will take some time, Torriero said, pointing to data on bad debt.
Gross bad loans continued to rise in April, totalling 166.4 billion euros from 164.6 billion euros a month earlier.
So-called sofferenze, or bad loans that are unlikely to ever be repaid, as a proportion of total loans stood at 8.8 percent, up from 8.6 percent the previous month.
After declining for three months, the stock of net non-performing loans rose to 76.7 billion euros in April, from 75.7 billion euros in March, as sales of bad debt by Italian lenders stalled. (Reporting by Francesca Landini, editing by Valentina Za)