FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Loans to private sector companies and households in the euro zone fell in December from the previous month, European Central Bank data showed on Friday, adding to signs of a credit crisis in the currency bloc.
The monthly flow of loans to firms dropped by 37 billion euros after falling by 7 billion euros in November.
Euro zone M3 money supply – a more general measure of cash in the economy – grew at an annual 1.6 percent in December, slowing from 2.0 percent in November and below expectations of 2.2 percent in a Reuters poll.
There is a tentative evidence of a modest credit crunch in the numbers with growth of loans to the private sector decreasing significantly, said Holger Schmieding, economist at Berenberg Bank.
These numbers on their own are a reason for further monetary easing. The ECB is still likely to cut interest rates in March, and they will have to revise down their growth forecasts, he added.
(Frankfurt Newsroom; Editing by Catherine Evans)