The increase in Singapore’s bank lending continued for the fifth consecutive month in March, following higher housing loans.

Total loans from the domestic banking unit – which captures lending in all currencies, but mainly reflects Singapore dollar lending – came in at $691.23 billion. This is up 0.7% from the $686.73 billion disbursed in February, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced on Apr 30.

March’s showing was led by a 0.7% m-o-m increase in consumer loans to $263.60 billion. 

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A major contribution came from a 0.6% pick up in housing loans to $203.92 billion. The segment makes up three-quarters of total consumer lending, and was previously up by 0.3% in February. 

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Loans to businesses had similarly edged up by 0.7% m-o-m $427.53 billion in March. This marks the segment’s fourth consecutive month of growth and comes despite a 0.3% slip in the loans to the building and construction segment.

Some $151.71 billion had been disbursed under building and construction, which makes for the single-largest business lending segment.

On a y-o-y basis, total bank lending was down by 0.2% in March.

The latest data “reinforces the green shoots story in the Singapore economic recovery and it is likely that the overall bank loans data may revert to modest positive on-year growth in the coming months,” mulls Selena Ling, head of treasury research and strategy at OCBC Bank.

She is expecting a 0.3% y-o-y increase in bank loans this year, as domestic business sentiments improve amid vaccination progress and talk of more travel bubbles opening up.

As at 12.23pm on Apr 30, shares in all three banks were up, with OCBC edging up by 16 cents or 1.32% to $12.28 and UOB going up by 15 cents or 0.56% to $26.74. DBS’ shares meanwhile was trading up 71 cents or 2.42% at $30.10.

See: DBS posts record quarterly net profit of $2.01 bil in 1Q21; maintains dividend of 18 cents per share