Banks in South Korea are likely to tighten their rules on household loans in the first quarter of this year amid a recent trend of rising interest rates, central bank data showed Monday.
The overall index measuring banks' "attitude" toward extending loans to households came to minus 13 for the January-March period, compared with minus 17 a quarter earlier, according to data by the Bank of Korea (BOK).
A reading below zero means banks will implement tougher screening for household loans, while a reading above zero means eased lending requirements.
The quarterly reading was based on a survey of 15 banks and 184 nonbank lenders between Nov. 24 and Dec. 13.
The BOK said demand for fresh mortgages is likely to fall to minus 30 in the first quarter due to government-led financial regulations aimed at cooling down the overheated housing market.
Last year, the government announced a set of measures, including designating 25 "overheated speculative" districts and reducing the loan-to-value and debt-to-income ratios for home purchases in such speculative regions, as part of its efforts to tackle the country's growing household debt.
Also, the central bank raised the base rate by a quarter percentage point to 1.5 percent in November, marking the first rate hike action in nearly 6 1/2 years.
As of the end of September, the country's overall household debt came to more than 1,400 trillion won ($1.32 trillion).
The BOK data also showed that local lenders' attitude toward fresh loans to big firms dropped to zero in the first quarter, while the attitude toward small and mid-sized companies worsened to minus seven from three over the three-month period.
Separately, indices measuring the credit risks of large firms came to 10 for the January-March quarter, unchanged from the previous quarter. Meanwhile, an index measuring the credit risks of households rose to 27 from 17 during the cited period. (Yonhap)