SANTIAGO, April 16 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
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)