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Euro zone firms continue to stock up on bank credit

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: EU flags fly in front of European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt
FILE PHOTO: EU flags fly in front of European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Euro zone companies continued to load up on bank credit last month, bracing for a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that is raising fears of new economic restrictions and a double-dip recession, European Central Bank data showed on Tuesday.

Lending to non-financial corporations in the 19-country euro area expanded by 7.1% in September, unchanged since June and not far below a more than ten-year high of 7.3% hit in May.

With much of the euro zone economy shut down amid the pandemic, firms rushed to tap emergency credit lines this year, supported by government guarantees and central bank funding available for rates as low as minus 1%.

But surveys also indicate that banks are growing increasingly worried about rising credit risk given a resurfacing pandemic that is challenging expectations for a relatively swift rebound.

Household lending growth meanwhile picked up to 3.1% from 3.0% a month earlier.

The annual growth rate of the M3 measure of money supply, mostly a reflection of the ECB's copious bond purchases, accelerated to 10.4% from 9.5% a month earlier, beating expectations for 9.6% in a Reuters poll.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Francesco Canepa)