December 29, 2016 / 11:24 AM / a year ago

Greek bank deposits rise in November, stuck at 13-year lows

ATHENS, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Greek bank deposits rose slightly in November for the second month in a row but remain at levels last seen 13 years ago, keeping banks hooked on central bank funding, data released by the country’s central bank showed on Thursday.

Business and household deposits rose by 170 million euros, or 0.14 percent month-on-month to 124.80 billion euros ($130.65 billion), their lowest since November 2003. They had increased by 1.16 billion euros to 124.63 billion in October.

Greek banks have seen only a trickle of deposit inflows in more than a year after the country clinched a third bailout to stay in the euro zone. They remain dependent on central bank borrowing to plug their funding gap.

The gap between outstanding loans and deposits has forced Greek lenders to rely on borrowing from the European Central Bank and the Bank of Greece to plug their funding holes.

Greece’s banking sector saw a 42 billion euro deposit outflow from December to July last year. Capital controls imposed on June 28 last year helped contain the flight but sharply increased banks’ dependence on emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) from the Bank of Greece.

The government eased capital restrictions this year after making headway on bailout-mandated reforms and improved confidence in the banking system.

As part of the relaxation of controls, “mattress” cash that are returned to banks are not subject to the restrictions, meaning amounts deposited can be fully withdrawn.

Banks have been offering higher interest rates to attract back billions of euros that savers pulled out in cash last year, paying up to half a percentage point above what existing time deposits earn. ($1 = 0.9552 euros) (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos)

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