Bank loans up on back of strong business lending

The increased loans to the sector were key in lifting overall bank lending to $597.5 billion, up 1.1 per cent on April's $591.1 billion.

The May figure is also up 13 per cent on the $528.8 billion of total loans disbursed in the same month last year, according to Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) data yesterday.

Business loans comprised $368.5 billion of May's total, up 1.5 per cent on the $363.1 billion loaned in April.

Lending to all business segments went up except to those in the "others" segment. This includes non-traditional sectors like membership organisations, as defined by the Department of Statistics in its Singapore Standard Industrial Classification.

Consumer loans came in at $229.1 billion, up by 0.5 per cent from April's $228 billion.

Housing and bridging loans, the biggest component of consumer loans, stood at $170.7 billion, up 0.7 per cent from the $169.5 billion lent in April.

OCBC economist Selena Ling noted that mortgages regained some traction in May to grow by 7.6 per cent compared with the same period last year, faster than the 7.3 per cent year-on-year growth seen in April.

Housing and bridging loans also rose month on month, by 0.7 per cent in May over April, better than the 0.4 per cent expansion seen in April over March.

"The pick-up in mortgage loan momentum coincided with the 11-month high of 1,470 private residential property units sold in May, but the jury is still out on whether the latter sales pace can be sustained or is simply indicative of opportunistic and highly price-elastic demand," Ms Ling said.

Car loans continued their descent, with $9.72 billion lent in May, down 2 per cent from April's $9.91 billion.

"The average bank loans growth for January to May is 14.2 per cent year on year, and is likely to decelerate further for a couple more months before stabilising," Ms Ling added.

This article was first published on June 1, 2014.
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