The increase in Singapore’s bank lending continued in February for the fourth consecutive month, thanks to higher housing and construction loans.

Total loans from the domestic banking unit – which captures lending in all currencies, but mainly reflects Singapore dollar lending – came in at $686.73 billion. This is up 0.5% from the $683.59 billion disbursed in January, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) revealed on Mar 31.

February’s showing was led by a 0.5% m-o-m increase in business loans to $424.76 billion.

This signals that “we’re likely already at a turning point,” reckons Selena Ling who heads the treasury research and strategy team at OCBC Bank.

A substantial push came from a 1.2% increase in loans to the building and construction sector. Collectively, they account for the single-largest business lending segment.

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The segment’s latest performance is an extension of the 0.3% increase it had logged in the month prior.

Still, Ling notes loans to the various business segments remain uneven. 

Loans to manufacturing, building and construction and general commerce picked up speed on a m-o-m basis, while that for transport storage & communications, business services and financial institutions continue to lag for now, she adds.

Meanwhile, loans to consumers edged up by 0.4% m-o-m in February to $261.97 billion. 

A major contribution came from a 0.3% increase in housing loans disbursed to $202.66 billion. This segment makes up three-quarters of total consumer lending.

On a y-o-y basis, total bank lending was down by 0.9% in February.

Against this backdrop, Ling does not foresee MAS changing the policy settings of the Singapore Dollar Nominal Effective Exchange Rate (S$NEER) in its upcoming April review.

“Assuming the labour market healing continues, albeit gradually and with policy support, consumer loans and housing appetite should hold up in the interim,” she explains.

Shares of all three banks were down on Mar 31, with OCBC dropping 12 cents or 1.01% to $11.75 and UOB dipping by 10 cents or 0.39% to $25.83. DBS meanwhile closed at $28.79, down 21 cents or 0.72%.