Eurozone bank lending picture beginning to brighten: ECB

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Bank lending in the 16-nation eurozone presents a mixed but mostly positive picture, the European Central Bank said Thursday, with credit for households in particular becoming easier to obtain.

In its quarterly lending survey of 120 eurozone banks, the ECB said a net four percent of banks reported having tightened standards for businesses, down from 11 percent in the second quarter of the year.

The easing of what is nonetheless still a net tightening "is mainly explained by improvements in banks' abilities to access market financing and banks' liquidity positions," the ECB said.

Meanwhile, demand by eurozone companies for bank loans turned positive in the three-month period "after more than two years in negative territory," it added.

The improvement was seen among large, medium and small firms, although demand from big groups has remained weaker than that from smaller companies since the second half of 2009.

Lending to households was better, with credit conditions on mortgages and consumer loans achieving "a neutral stance in the third quarter of 2010 after more then two years of continued tightening," the ECB said.

In the final three months of the year, "banks expect a stable net tightening of credit standards for enterprises, a slight net easing of credit standards for housing loans and a more sizeable net easing in consumer credit," it said.

© 2010 AFP

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