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[FRANKFURT] Lending growth to euro zone households and firms drew to a halt in April, European Central Bank data showed on Friday, slipping after the previous month's improvement roughly two months after the bank launched a massive money-printing programme.
Loans to the private sector were flat at 0.0 per cent on the year after a rise of 0.1 per cent in the previous month, the ECB said. A Reuters poll had pointed to lending rising by 0.2 per cent.
Sparse lending to companies has dogged the struggling euro zone economy although the picture had been improving and policy setters including ECB President Mario Draghi believe that the bloc is recovering.
The poor result comes despite a 1 trillion euro-plus stimulus scheme to buy chiefly government bonds, which has propped up confidence.
The M3 measure of money circulating throughout the 19 countries in the euro zone grew, however, by 5.3 per cent in April, the ECB said. This was higher than the previous month's rise of 4.6 per cent.