January 3, 2019 / 9:15 AM / 18 days ago

Euro zone lending data still bright against gloomy backdrop

FILE PHOTO: A rainbow is seen behind European flags during a euro zone EU leaders emergency summit on the situation in Greece at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, July 7, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Euro zone banks were still increasing the volume of credit to companies and households in November even as the bloc’s economy slowed sharply, European Central Bank data showed on November.

Growth in the euro zone and much of the world is losing steam, dragged by slower demand from China and increased trade frictions between Beijing and Washington.

But euro zone lending data, which tends to lag by roughly a year a forward-looking indicator of economic activity such as the survey of company managers, still painted a bright picture.

Corporate loans grew by 4 percent year-on-year while credit to households rose by 3.3 percent - in each case 10 basis points faster than in October, the data showed.

The latter marked the highest growth rate since 2009, extending a multi-year recovery fuelled by the ECB’s ultra-easy policy of massive bond purchases and ultra-cheap funding for banks.

(GRAPHIC: Bank lending lags economic activity - tmsnrt.rs/2SuQrJv)

Growth in the amount of money circulating in the euro zone, which sometimes foreshadows future lending activity and depends in part on the ECB’s own policy, slowed to 3.7 percent.

The ECB stopped adding to its 2.6 trillion euro ($2.96 trillion) pile of bonds in December but has pledged to reinvest cash from maturing debt for a long time and keep rates at rock-bottom at least through the summer.

Reporting By Francesco Canepa; Editing by Gareth Jones

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