Slovenian bank lending to firms shrinks at record pace in January
FRANKFURT Feb 27 (Reuters) - Bank lending to Slovenian companies fell at an annual rate of 15.7 percent in January, the sharpest decline since the statistics began in 2005, European Central Bank data showed on Thursday.
The euro zone as a whole, including most countries battling high debt loads, saw a slightly more encouraging development, with the rate of decrease moderating.
In Italy, the drop was 5.0 percent, after a 5.3 percent fall in December. Spain saw the decrease moderate to 10.1 percent annual fall in January, from 11.2 percent in the previous month.
The euro zone as a whole saw lending to non-financial firms fall 2.9 percent in January from the same month a year earlier. Lending to the private sector fell at an annual rate of 2.2 percent last month.
However, the data showed that there was no clear turning point after the year-end cut-off date for a series of tests on the euro zone's largest lenders to uncover potential balance-sheet risks and capital shortfalls.
The asset-quality review is based on banks' balance sheets at the end of 2013. ECB policymakers have said that could have crimped lending in the final months of last year.
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