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No signs of new property bubble in Spain, says central bank

Madrid

THERE are no signs of a new property bubble in Spain and the sector is far from showing any indications of over-valuation seen before its 2008 collapse, Bank of Spain governor Pablo Hernandez de Cos said on Wednesday.

Spain's economy slumped for nearly five years after a burst property bubble sent prices falling as much as 40 per cent, hit the construction sector and left millions out of work.

In the run-up to the 2008 crisis, the construction sector was worth around 12 per cent of Spain's economic output, there was a sharp growth in lending and house prices were overvalued, Mr Hernandez de Cos said.

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"Where are we today? We're a long way from any excessive growth in credit . . . and the weight of construction has seen an important adjustment," he said at a banking conference in the Spanish capital.

The construction sector has shrunk considerably since the end of the last decade and is now worth between five and six percent of economic output. Mortgage lending has also seen a sharp reduction as banks have reigned in credit.

Housing prices, meanwhile, have shown some turnaround since the economy returned to growth in 2013, but remain manageable, Mr Hernandez de Cos said.

"In the case of house values, we've seen prices rise quickly but we're still a long way from where we were during the crisis," he said, and the central bank would continue to monitor the sector closely. REUTERS