Credit growth hits near 4-year high in October

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star
Credit growth hits near 4-year high in October
BSP Governor Felipe Medalla said that loans disbursed by universal and commercial banks grew by 13.9 percent in October, faster than the 13.4 percent increase recorded in September.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Credit growth continued to pick up further to hit its fastest pace in almost four years in October amid the country’s stronger-than-expected economic expansion, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

BSP Governor Felipe Medalla said that loans disbursed by universal and commercial banks grew by 13.9 percent in October, faster than the 13.4 percent increase recorded in September.

“The sustained growth in credit activity and ample liquidity will continue to support the recovery of economic activity and domestic demand,” Medalla said.

After exiting the pandemic-induced recession with a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 5.7 percent last year, the country sustained strong recovery with a 7.7 percent expansion from January to September this year, faster than the 6.5 to 7.5 percent target penned by economic managers.

For the third quarter alone, the Philippines booked a faster-than-anticipated GDP growth of 7.6 percent despite the elevated inflation that prompted the BSP Monetary Board to hike key policy rates by 300 basis points so far this year.

This brought the benchmark interest rate to a 14-year high of five percent from an all-time low of two percent.

Bank lending has been increasing for the past 15 months or since August last year after contracting for eight straight months between December 2020 and July 2021 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The growth booked in October was the fastest since the 15.3 percent recorded in January 2019.

Preliminary data released by the central bank Tuesday evening showed loans to production activities increased at a faster rate of 12.5 percent to P9.23 trillion in October this year from P8.21 trillion in the same period last year and accounted for 87.4 percent of the total disbursements.

The real estate sector grew at a slower rate of 14 percent to P2.1 trillion and accounted for 19.9 percent of the total disbursements, followed by the manufacturing sector with a 16.2 percent growth to P1.23 trillion for a share of 11.6 percent, as well as wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, with an 11.5 percent increase to P1.21 trillion for a share of 11.4 percent.

Loans extended to the electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning supply sector climbed by 10.9 percent to P1.14 trillion for a 10.8 percent share, while credit extended to financial and insurance activities grew by 12.8 percent to P1.03 trillion for a 9.8 percent share.

Medalla said lending to households jumped by 22.6 percent to P987.11 billion in end-October, comprising 9.4 percent of the total loans disbursed by big banks.

Credit card loans surged by 26.8 percent to P521.62 billion as the BSP decided to maintain a status quo on the cap on credit card charges at two percent per month or 24 percent per annum until the end of the year.

Auto loans also went up by 6.6 percent to P325.54 billion while salary-based general-purpose consumption loans zoomed by 62.8 percent to P122.25 billion.

“Looking ahead, the BSP will continue to take all necessary action to ensure that liquidity and bank lending conditions remain consistent with promoting price and financial stability,” Medalla said.

The BSP also reported a 5.4 percent rise in money supply or liquidity in the financial system to P14.95 trillion in end-October.

The central bank ensures that liquidity conditions will continue to support domestic demand and economic activity.

Both S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings see credit growth slowing down next year due to the aggressive rate hikes delivered by the BSP to match the rate increases of the US Federal Reserve point by point.

S&P sees lending growth easing to a range of five to seven percent next year from the projected seven to nine percent this year.

On the other hand, Fitch expects credit growth to slow down to 6.5 percent next year from this year’s 8.8 percent.


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