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Qatar bank private sector lending firmer

Doha, July 1, 2009

Qatari bank lending to the private sector rose 2.5 percent in March from February, central bank data showed on Tuesday, a signal the Gulf state's banks are getting bolder on new loans.

Total domestic credit of Qatari commercial banks rose 1.3 percent in March from February to 207.89 billion riyals ($57.12 billion) as money supply growth in the Gulf state slowed to 2 percent, the central bank said.

After more than doubling between 2007 and 2008 during a regional economic boom, total domestic credit in Qatar had fallen month-on-month so far this year as the global economic turmoil made an abundance of credit a thing of the past.

Gulf economies -- heavily reliant on oil and gas revenues -- had surged as oil prices rallied to peaks of almost $150 a barrel last July, and they slowed down as the price of crude slumped to close to $30 a barrel earlier this year. Qatar is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

'The data show lending to the Qatari private sector is holding up pretty well, and I take that as an encouraging sign, particularly given the more acute slowdown we've seen elsewhere,' said HSBC economist Simon Williams.

In February, total credit to the private sector had risen 1 percent compared to the previous month. Year-on-year growth of private sector credit of 36.7 percent in March was still the slowest rate in at least two years.

Total credit to the public sector fell 4.19 percent year-on-year in March, the data showed, compared to a 36 percent drop in February.

M2 money supply growth in Qatar also slowed for the ninth straight month to 2 percent in March, when total domestic liquidity stood at 179.46 billion riyals, the central bank said.

By comparison, annual money supply had surged at least 45 percent in each of the first seven months of 2008 as oil prices scaled peaks above $100 a barrel and investors piled into riyals on expectations the Gulf state would revalue its currency.

The central bank's net international reserves stood at 40.99 billion riyals at the end of March, a 1.6 percent increase compared to the previous month. - Reuters




Tags: lending | Qatar bank |

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