SEOUL, Aug 26 (Reuters) - South Korea’s annual household credit growth eased slightly during the April-June period, central bank data showed on Tuesday, but the underlying growth rate remained resilient in the face of a maritime disaster in April that dented private consumption.
Household credit during the June quarter, including loans and other credit owed by South Korean households, was up 6.2 percent on-year, or 15.1 trillion won, to 1,040.0 trillion won (1.02 trillion US dollar), the Bank of Korea’s preliminary data showed.
This was slightly slower than a 6.4 percent gain seen in the first quarter, when credit grew at the fastest clip in two years.
The increase was led by household loans owed to financial institutions, which rose 6.1 percent in the second quarter of the year from a year ago to 982.5 trillion won.
“Most believed the Sewol ferry sinking would have dragged down credit growth, but we saw loans grow in the second quarter as this period is usually the peak moving season,” said a central bank official.
The capsizing of the Sewol ferry in mid-April killed more than 300 passengers and cast a pall of gloom on the domestic tourism industry. The resulting hit to consumption dragged down second quarter growth to its slowest in more than a year.
The central bank data also attributed the rise in loans to banks increasing efforts to attract clients to borrow more at fixed interest rates.
This is part of a government attempt to push households towards structurally sound loans, as the country’s financial regulator said in February fixed-rate and amortising home loans must each account for 40 percent of banks’ residential mortgage holdings by 2017.
Purchases on credit, including credit card transactions gained 7.9 percent on a yearly basis to 57.5 trillion won, the central bank’s quarterly data showed.
Most analysts see credit continuing to grow in the third quarter as government measures aimed at boosting activity in South Korea’s housing market were launched in August on top of a widely expected rate cut, which was delivered earlier this month. (1 US dollar = 1,018.0000 Korean won) (Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)