Chile loan conditions tighten in Q1 as economy slows - poll

SANTIAGO, April 16 Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:48pm EDT

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SANTIAGO, April 16 (Reuters) - Conditions for corporate loans in Chile became more restrictive in the first three months of the year, and demand for consumer credit also tightened, the central bank's quarterly poll on bank credit showed on Wednesday.

Chile's economy, which is largely fueled by copper exports and domestic consumption, is slowing gradually as investment cools, manufacturing falters and robust consumption ebbs.

Demand for consumer credit was weaker in the first quarter from the previous quarter according to 38 percent of banks polled, "mainly due to more unattractive interest rate conditions and substitution via alternative forms of financing," the central bank said.

Nearly nine in 10 banks said, however, that the availability of consumer loans was unchanged from the previous quarter.

The poll showed credit supply conditions were mostly seen tighter for large companies, while conditions for small- and medium-sized companies stayed largely unchanged.

Demand for loans from large companies weakened in the January-March period, breaking with the trend in previous quarters when banks saw an increase. But larger companies are responding to tougher credit conditions by becoming more creative in their financing.

Santander Chile, one of the country's largest banks, alongside Banco de Chile, has recently pursued debt issuance in Australia and Japan, among others.

A third of the banks surveyed said the availability of credit for construction companies had waned, while 17 percent said the same of real estate firms.

"According to the banks polled, the more restrictive conditions for these two groups of companies were attributed to a deterioration in the economic outlook for both sectors," the central bank said. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito, editing by G Crosse)

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