Consumer lending shows largest rise in two years: Rising consumption key ingredient of economic revival

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NET lending to consumers climbed by pounds 213m in June, the largest monthly increase for two years and a further sign that higher consumption has become a key ingredient of the recovery, writes Peter Torday.

The increase was largely in line with market expectations and appeared to reflect the surge in June retail sales.

The rise partly reflected a return to credit card borrowing after a large net repayment in May. Card credit advanced to consumers rose by pounds 64m following a repayment of pounds 56m in the previous month. But in the latest three months, a more reliable guide to the underlying trend, credit card credit was up by pounds 73m after rising pounds 120m in the three months to March.

Kevin Gardiner, of Warburg Securities, said: 'These figures suggest that consumers are less unhappy with their balance sheets than was believed and they do seem to be borrowing again.'

Lending by finance houses and other specialist credit agencies advanced by pounds 150m in June, after rising by pounds 180m, a two-and-a-half-year peak, in the previous month. The figures also include loans to consumers by building societies but do not include mortgage lending by banks and building societies, a large portion of consumer borrowing.

Underlining the recovery in consumption, figures for the latest three months showed that overall net lending to consumers rose by pounds 525m following a pounds 400m increase in the three months to March. On a three-month basis, net lending to consumers has been rising since August 1992.

If figures for bad consumer debts written off are included, net lending to consumers rose by pounds 139m during June after edging up by pounds 48m in May.

The amount of new credit advanced to consumers in June stood at pounds 4.69bn in June, up from pounds 4.02bn in the previous month. In the latest three months total new credit advanced was pounds 13.314bn, up slightly from pounds 13.096bn in the three months to March.

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