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Non-resident deposits in Singapore rise over past few months

S$49.7b total includes deposits from overseas residents and Singaporeans working abroad

Foreign-currency deposits - which come from both residents and non-residents - surged to S$15.47b as at October, compared to the S$7-8b in the past three years.


BANK deposits here from residents outside Singapore rose to levels not seen since early-2016, preliminary data from the Monetary Authority of Singapore on Friday showed.

The latest data showed S$49.76 billion from residents outside Singapore were held through the domestic banking unit as at October this year. It includes deposits from persons with registered addresses outside Singapore - including overseas residents - Singaporeans working abroad, and companies with a registered address outside Singapore.

Figures compiled by The Business Times showed that such deposits have been rising month to month since April. That makes seven straight sessions of expansion.

The last time deposits of residents outside Singapore were at this level was in February 2016, when some S$51.39 billion was recorded by the domestic banking unit.

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The steady climb compares with the mild overall expansion of the same for all of 2018, which was a reversal of a downtrend recorded in 2017, data compiled by BT showed.

These are just a fraction of the deposits that Singapore banks take in from Singapore residents.

The surge in such deposits comes amid global geopolitical uncertainties, including the Hong Kong unrest that has persisted for about six months now.

To be sure, the first protests in the territory started in early June with the calls for the withdrawal of a widely unpopular extradition bill through peaceful protests.

Foreign-currency deposits have also continued their climb. As at October, they totalled S$15.47 billion - the highest since 1991, which is as far as records went - having risen in each consecutive month since May this year, with the biggest surge recorded in July.

Foreign-currency deposits come from both residents and non-residents, and have mostly stayed within the S$7-8 billion range in the past three years.

MAS also released its monthly data on bank lending, which was up 0.7 per cent in October from a month ago, reversing from a slight contraction in September.

These are loans from the domestic banking unit - which captures lending in all currencies, but reflect mainly Singapore-dollar lending. In October, the total amount was S$689.4 billion, higher than the S$684.5 billion recorded a month ago.

Business loans grew 1.1 per cent to S$426.8 billion in October from a month ago, reversing from a mild month-on-month contraction in September.

Strong lending to non-banking financial institutions mitigated broad-based weakness in lending to construction firms, manufacturers, as well as the offshore and marine firms. Consumer lending, of which housing loans account for three-quarters, saw a small lift of 0.1 per cent to S$262.7 billion in October over the month.

That being said, mortgages remained soft following the 2018 property cooling measures. The buffer on the consumer lending front came from a surge in share financing, and the continued expansion in credit-card debt.

From a year ago, total lending rose 2.6 per cent in October. This is stronger than the 2.2 per cent year-on-year loan growth in September.

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