SANTIAGO Jan 15 The availability of consumer loans in Chile became marginally more restrictive in the last quarter of 2013, though the market is split on whether demand for that type of financing eased or firmed, a central bank poll showed on Wednesday.
Chile's economy, which is largely fueled by exports and domestic demand, is gradually slowing as investment cools, manufacturing falters and robust consumption starts to ebb.
A fourth of the banks surveyed in the central bank's quarterly poll on bank credit saw more restrictive lending conditions for consumers mainly due to "a greater perceived risk in this segment, and to a lesser degree the effects that could come from regulatory changes."
Some 19 percent of banks polled said demand for consumer loans had decreased in the fourth quarter, though an equal amount believed it had strengthened.
Only 8 percent of banks said demand for mortgage loans had waned and none saw any changes in the availability of this kind of financing.
The availability of credit for construction and real-estate firms also slowed, according to 17 percent of banks.
Around 31 percent of banks reported weaker demand for financing from real-estate companies, "due mainly to decreased dynamism in the sector," the central bank said.
Meanwhile, 20 percent said demand for credit from construction firms had grown.
Demand for loans from companies of all sizes increased, according to approximately 29 percent of financial institutions polled.
"These demand conditions are mainly attributed to financing needs for working capital and investments in fixed-physical assets," it added.
The availability of corporate financing remained unchanged in the fourth quarter for small-and-medium-sized companies, according to all banks polled. It grew more restrictive for large firms, according to only 6 percent of those polled.
Chile's two largest banks are Santander Chile and Banco de Chile.
For the central bank's survey, see: here (Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)