FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Lending to euro zone companies slowed from its post-crisis high in December while a broader indicator of money circulating in the currency bloc, which often foreshadows future activity, dipped against expectations, data showed on Friday.
Corporate lending expanded by 2.9 in December, slowing from 3.1 percent a month ago, while household lending growth was steady at 2.8 percent, the European Central Bank said.
Buying over 2 trillion euros worth of debt in the past three years, the ECB has labored away to depress borrowing costs and kick start lending, all in the hope of rekindling inflation.
While its efforts have paid off and lending growth is trending around its best level since the global financial crisis, it remains well below its pre-crisis mark as many banks, under pressure to repair their balance sheets, are still reluctant to lend to the real economy.
The annual growth rate of the M3 measure of money supply, seen by some as a precursor of economic activity, eased to 4.6 percent from 4.9 a month earlier, falling short of expectations for 4.9 percent.
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Reporting by Balazs Koranyi