July 25, 2014 / 8:17 AM / in 3 years

UPDATE 1-Swedish household lending growth rises amid regulator worries

* June households lending up 5.4 pct y/y vs 5.3 pct in May

* Third straight monthly rise in growth rate

* Retail sales better than expected (Adds detail, background)

STOCKHOLM, July 25 (Reuters) - The growth rate for Swedish household lending rose for a third straight month in June, underscoring the growing headache for regulators worried over soaring debts and poised to take further steps to stem the surge.

Total lending to Swedish households rose 5.4 percent year-on-year in June compared to a 5.3 percent rise in May and a 4.8 percent expansion in the year-ago month, the statistics office said on Friday.

Lending growth is closely watched by Swedish regulators as household debts are among the highest in Europe at around 175 percent of disposable income and rising.

While lending growth had come down from double digit increases in 2006-2009 to more sustainable levels, it has started to tick up again over the past year.

Policymakers have taken several steps to try to rein in lending, but a deeper-than-expected 50 basis point cut in interest rates this month has intensified worries that households may pile on even more debt.

The finance ministry has now asked regulators to evaluate plans to force Swedes to gradually pay off their mortgages.

The statistics office said separately that Swedish June retail sales rose 0.5 percent on the month and 3.3 percent from a year ago, compared to market expectations for increases 0.4 and 3.0 percent respectively. (Reporting by Johan Ahlander; editing by Niklas Pollard)

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