imageFRANKFURT: Bank lending to private households in the euro area contracted again in March as the region's long-running debt crisis continues to choke demand for credit, data showed on Friday.

Eurozone bank loans to the private sector declined by 0.8 percent in March compared with the same month in 2012 after already shrinking by the same rate the previous month, the European Central Bank said in a statement.

The ECB has long argued that falling loans to the private sector reflects weak demand for credit rather than tight lending conditions, given the pessimistic view of eurozone growth prospects and heightened risk aversion during the crisis.

The ECB also published eurozone money supply data, which suggest that growth in the money supply -- a key guide to future inflation -- slowed last month.

Growth in the M3 indicator, which measures the amount of money in circulation, grew by 2.6 percent in March, compared with 3.1 percent in February.

The ECB regards the M3 figure as a key guide to inflation pressures and uses it to set interest rates accordingly.


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