Greek deposits see biggest monthly inflow in four years

An elderly man walks outside the Bank of Greece in Athens November 9, 2012. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek business and household bank deposits rose for a fourth consecutive month in December as uncertainty over the country’s future in the euro zone membership, central bank data showed on Monday.

Bank of Greece data showed deposits increased by 3.5 percent to 161.36 billion euros at the end of December from 155.89 billion euros in the previous month, the biggest monthly inflow in four years. Since reaching a bottom in June 2012, 11.3 billion euros have returned to the banking system.

Banks lost about a third of their deposits since the country’s debt crisis erupted in late 2009, partly due to capital flight on fears of a euro zone exit.

The shrinking deposit base added to strains on Greek lenders, which lost access to international funding markets and have come to depend on central bank funding for their liquidity.

Banks saw deposit inflows over the past few months as confidence grew that Greece’s European partners would continue bankrolling the country to keep it in the euro zone.

Reporting by Harry Papachristou