Wed, Dec 30, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Loan data offer signs of growth

By Kevin Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The central bank’s monthly data for consumer loans showed a slight increase last month from October, but car loans showed their first monthly increase in nearly four years.

The central bank defines consumer loans as including car loans, housing loans, loans for home renovation, revolving credit for credit cards and labor welfare loans.

Figures released by the bank on Monday showed that consumer loans reached a record NT$6.75 trillion (US$209.14 billion) last month, up NT$23.14 billion, or 0.3 percent, from the previous month.

The latest figures also suggested that Taiwan is moving on from the global economic slowdown that began impacting locally late last year: Last month’s consumer loans were NT$109.42 million, or 1.6 percent, higher than the NT$6.64 trillion a year earlier.

Supported by a government commodity tax reduction of NT$30,000 per car, car loans totaled NT$53.3 billion last month, up NT$110 million, or 0.2 percent, from the previous month, the bank’s data showed.

Last month’s car-loan figure represented the first monthly rise since February 2006, when car buyers borrowed a total of NT$140.57 billion from financial institutions.

The latest figures released by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications showed that local car sales rose 22.2 percent year-on-year to 269,700 units as of Dec. 20, after the commodity tax cut took effect on Jan. 1. The measure will expire tomorrow.

Meanwhile, figures released by the central bank yesterday showed that the property market continued to show signs of growth.

Housing loans rose for a ninth straight month to a record level of NT$4.88 trillion last month, up NT$23.15 billion, or 0.5 percent, from the previous month. Compared with the same period a year ago, housing loans grew NT$173.8 billion, or 3.7 percent, tallies showed.

Loans for construction also expanded for a third straight month to NT$991.5 billion last month, indicating that construction companies remain upbeat about the property market next year, an industry watcher said, citing central bank data.

Chiu Tai-hsuan (邱太煊), a real estate analyst at Taiwan Realty Co (台灣房屋), said the NT$15.41 billion, or 1.6 percent, increase in such loans — which mostly include loans to construction firms for housing projects and land development — last month from the previous month was the largest monthly increase since December 2007, when loans increased by NT$22.53 billion to NT$1.06 trillion.

But Chuang Meng-han (莊孟翰), a professor of industrial economics at Tamkang University, said it was too early to reach that conclusion, because rising loans for construction could partially be accounted for by increases in the cost of land.

Moreover, the outlook for the property market next year would also weigh on development in regional markets, “such as the government’s move to contain rising asset prices across markets and the value of the Chinese yuan,” Chuang said in a telephone interview.

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