FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Lending to euro zone companies surged to its highest rate since mid-2009 while a broader indicator of money circulating in the currency bloc, which often foreshadows future activity, was unchanged as expected, data showed on Tuesday.
Lending to non-financial corporations expanded by 3.4 percent in January, compared with 3.1 percent a month ago, while household lending growth held steady at a post-crisis high of 2.9 percent, the European Central Bank said in a regular monthly statement.
Buying over 2 trillion euros ($2.47 trillion) worth of debt in the past three years, the ECB has laboured away to depress borrowing costs and kick start lending, all in the hope of rekindling inflation.
While its efforts have paid off and lending growth is trending around its best level since the global financial crisis, it remains well below its pre-crisis mark as many banks, under pressure to repair their balance sheets, are still reluctant to lend to the real economy.
The annual growth rate of the M3 measure of money supply, seen by some as a precursor of economic activity, was steady at 4.6 percent.
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($1 = 0.8108 euros)
Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Maria Sheahan