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Nov bank lending up 0.5%; foreign currency deposits hit new peak

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Bank lending rose 0.5 per cent in November from October, easing slightly from a 0.7 per cent increase in October, preliminary Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) data showed on Tuesday.

Singapore

BANK lending rose 0.5 per cent in November from October, easing slightly from a 0.7 per cent increase in October, preliminary Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) data showed on Tuesday.

Loans through the domestic banking unit - which captures lending in all currencies, but reflects mainly Singapore-dollar lending - stood at S$692.73 billion in November, compared with S$689.42 billion a month ago.

From a year ago, total lending rose 3.1 per cent.

MAS data also showed that foreign currency deposits rose to S$16.48 billion in November - this is the highest since records started in 1991. It was up from S$15.47 billion in October.

Foreign currency deposits - which come from both residents and non-residents - have surged since June this year, which comes amid rising geopolitical uncertainties, such as the civil unrest in Hong Kong.

For perspective, foreign currency deposits have mostly stayed within the S$7-8 billion range in the past three years.

Similarly, bank deposits from residents outside Singapore also continued to rise for the eighth straight month with S$51.08 billion in November, up from S$49.76 billion in October.

This was the highest figure since February 2016, which saw S$51.39 billion in deposits from residents outside Singapore recorded by the domestic banking unit.

It includes deposits from persons with registered addresses outside Singapore, including overseas residents, as well as Singaporeans working abroad, and companies with a registered address outside Singapore.

Overall, the 0.5 per cent uptick in bank lending came mostly from an increase in business loans, which grew 0.7 per cent from October to S$429.78 billion on the back of more lending to business services firms.

Aside from business services, loans to firms in building and construction, general commerce, transport, storage and communication, and financial institutions also went up.

Business lending was up 6 per cent from S$405.6 billion in November last year.

Consumer loans stayed about the same, with S$262.95 billion in November this year compared with S$262.65 billion a month ago. Year on year, consumer loans were down 1.3 per cent.

Housing and bridging loans continued to decline by 0.1 per cent month-on-month to S$200.94 billion in November. It is also down 1.5 per cent from a year ago.