February 22, 2018 / 3:01 AM / 6 months ago

South Korea end-Q4 household debt growth near 3-year low

SEOUL, Feb 22 (Reuters) - South Korea’s household debt grew by the slowest annual pace in almost three years at the end of the fourth quarter, pressured by a series of government measures to curb excessive borrowing.

The outstanding amount of home loans and other debt owed by South Korean households at the end of December rose 8.1 percent from a year earlier to 1,450.9 trillion won ($1.34 trillion), preliminary data from the Bank of Korea showed on Thursday.

That was below a 9.5 percent gain in the third quarter and the slowest since a 7.4 percent rise in the first quarter of 2015.

South Korea announced in October that it will tighten mortgage rules for owners of multiple homes to put a brake on binge borrowing, amid concerns growing household debt could leave the economy exposed to a crash.

In August, the government also had implemented the toughest rules yet to cool housing prices, including new curbs on mortgages and increased capital gains taxes for owners of multiple homes.

On a quarterly basis, the debt expanded 2.3 percent in the October-December period after gaining 2.3 percent in the previous three-month period, the data showed. ($1 = 1,080.6000 won) (Reporting by Dahee Kim; Editing by Choonsik Yoo Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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