MILAN Feb 10 Non-performing loans at Italian
banks grew at a much sharper annual pace in December as Italy
struggles to emerge from a deep economic crisis and lenders are
cleaning up their balance sheet in light of a European asset
Lenders also cut their holdings of domestic government bonds
ahead of a year-end deadline for balance sheet data that the
European Central Bank will use it its review of the euro zone
Bank of Italy data showed on Monday that non-performing
loans at Italian banks rose 24.6 percent year-on-year in
December, accelerating from a 22.7 percent increase in November.
Holdings of Italian government bonds at Italy-based banks
stood at 387.4 billion euros ($527.6 billion) in December, down
from 402.9 billion euros the previous month, according to data
that are partly calculated at market value.
Italian banks are expected to have lowered their sovereign
holdings ahead of a Dec. 31 snapshot of balance sheets the
European Central Bank will use in its review of euro zone
lenders this year.
($1 = 0.7343 euros)
(Reporting by Valentina Za)