* Non-performing loans rise to 8.2 pct of portfolios
* House prices fall 7.2 pct in Q1
* Defaults to keep rising on back of budget cuts
MADRID, April 18 Spanish banks' bad loans rose
to their highest level since Oct. 1994 in February, to 8.2
percent of their credit portfolios, Bank of Spain data showed on
Wednesday, as the sector continues to battle sliding house
prices and a looming recession.
Banks are facing a new wave of loan defaults as an economic
crisis deepens and analysts say some may not survive as the
government implements sweeping budget cuts that will only add to
Spanish households' problems with repaying debt.
Non-performing loans increased by 3.8 billion euros ($4.99
billion) to 143.8 billion euros in February from the previous
month. They totalled 7.9 percent of total debt portfolios in
That picture - driven by the collapse of a housing boom in
the global financial turmoil of 2008 - is at the heart of
problems for Spanish banks that have seen other institutions
refuse to lend to them and forced some to rely on the European
Central Bank for funding.
Spain's unemployment rate is already the highest in the
European Union and is expected to rise further - putting more
pressure on consumers and households.
House prices also fell another 7.2 percent in the first
quarter from a year earlier, according to the Spanish Public
The Bank of Spain on Tuesday approved all 135 Spanish banks'
plans to boost capital but said some may face difficulties
meeting tough requirements set by the government.
The government set strict recapitalisation requirements in
February to clean up the sector in an effort to reassure
investors its ailing lenders won't need international help.