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Chile central bank survey: Loan demand up, but lending conditions remain tight

Chilean banks reported that demand for loans from large companies and SMEs was stronger in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to the prior quarter, although financing conditions remained tight, especially for consumer loans, according to a survey by Banco Central de Chile.

In terms of loans to large companies, 94% of banks reported "no significant changes" in lending conditions, while the proportion reporting stricter conditions for loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises fell to 14% from 29%, the central bank said in a Jan. 18 press release.

Better lending conditions appeared to fuel stronger demand. While the proportion of banks reporting weaker demand from large companies fell to 31% from 38%, the proportion reporting stronger demand jumped to 25% from 13%.

A similar scenario was reported for SMEs, with the proportion of banks reporting weaker demand down to 7% from 14%, and the proportion reporting stronger demand up to 36% from 14%, the central bank noted.

As for lending to individuals, demand for consumer loans and mortgages was not as weak as in the previous quarter. The proportion of banks reporting weaker demand for consumer loans fell to 7% from 21%, while the proportion that reported the same for mortgages fell to 25% from 33%.

However, the proportion of banks reporting stronger demand for consumer loans fell to 7% from 14%, while the proportion for mortgages held steady at 17%.

Part of the reason for the sluggish demand for consumer loans may be unfavorable lending conditions. The percentage of banks that reported tighter financing conditions for consumer loans rose to 21% from 14%, but the percentage reporting the same for mortgages fell to 8% from 33%.