S.Korea Q4 household credit growth fastest in 7 quarters

SEOUL Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:00pm EST

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SEOUL Feb 25 (Reuters) - South Korea's annual household credit growth picked up to its quickest pace in seven quarters in the October-December period, central bank data showed on Tuesday, due to government measures introduced last year to boost housing transactions.

Household credit at the end of December, including loans and other credit owed by South Korean households, was up 6.0 percent year-on-year at 1,021.3 trillion won ($950.5 billion).

That was up from a revised 5.6 percent gain three months before and the quickest pace since a 7.1 percent increase in the first quarter of 2012, the Bank of Korea said.

Loans owed to financial institutions rose 6.3 percent to 963.0 trillion won as of end-December, while purchases on credit, such as credit card transactions, inched up 0.8 percent to 58.3 trillion won, the quarterly data showed.

A Bank of Korea official said the rise was attributed to a slew of tax cuts and low-interest loans provided last year under government measures to boost the real estate market.

As a result, housing transactions in the country surged in January, underscoring growing optimism for the property market.

The South Korea government under President Park Geun-hye is aiming to revive household spending while pushing local consumers to more structurally sound loans in order to keep a heavy household debt load from debilitating the economy. ($1 = 1074.5000 Korean won) (Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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