The European Central Bank (ECB) said in its latest survey on bank credit that banks have maintained in the fourth quarter of last year the standards of loans to companies and mortgages.
The ECB conducted the survey between 6 and 27 December on 144 banks in the euro area.
Credit standards for loans to companies and for mortgage loans remained in the fourth quarter (1%), but for consumer loans and other loans to households have tightened more (3%), despite expectations that they would remain.
This figure is the net percentage of banks that said they have tightened credit conditions.
Banks perceive risks for the economy in general and for the specific situation of some companies and that makes the credit standards that apply to companies harden somewhat.
Credit standards are the internal guidelines of the banks or the criteria for approving credits.
Banks expect to maintain the conditions of business loans, tighten those of mortgage loans and relax consumer loans in the first quarter of 2020.
The demand for loans to companies has declined for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2013, due to the slowdown in economic activity since 2018.
But the demand for mortgage and consumer loans continued to rise and banks forecast it will rise more in the first quarter.
Credit standards for business loans have tightened in Spain (10%) and France (3%), but were maintained in Germany and Italy (0% in both cases) in the fourth quarter.
In the case of mortgage loans, credit standards were tightened in Spain (11%) and France (2%), relaxed in Italy (-10%) and maintained in Germany (0%).
Demand for business loans has fallen in Spain and, to a lesser extent, in France, but increased in Germany and remained in Italy.
The demand for mortgage loans increased in France, Germany and Italy, but fell in Spain.
Consumer credit standards were maintained in Germany and France (0%), hardened in Spain (30%) and relaxed in Italy (- 10%)
The ECB conducts this survey four times a year to better understand how banks lend.
Banks also said their access to debt securities and securitization financing has improved, but access to money markets and retail financing remained in the fourth quarter.