[FRANKFURT] Loans to the private sector in the euro area, a gauge of economic health, slipped year-on-year in February, but by less than in January, the European Central Bank said Thursday.
The volume of loans to private businesses and households declined by just 0.1 per cent in February compared with the same month in 2014, fractionally lower than the drop of 0.2 per cent recorded in January, the ECB said in a statement.
The long and deep financial crisis in the 19 countries that share the euro has squeezed lending, thus dampening economic activity.
The overall eurozone money supply grew 4.0 per cent in February from a year earlier, faster than the 3.7 per cent recorded in January.
The ECB regards M3 money supply as a barometer for future inflation.