BERLIN - Loans to the private sector in the euro area, a gauge of economic health, increased slightly year-on-year in June, but only at the same pace as a month earlier, the European Central Bank said Monday.
The volume of loans to private businesses and households increased by 0.6 percent in June compared with the same month in 2014, the Frankfurt-based central bank said.
The long and deep financial crisis in the 19 countries that share the euro has squeezed lending, thus dampening economic activity.
But the ECB has launched a raft of policy measures to get credit flowing again and keeps a close eye on lending developments as a key factor in driving growth in the eurozone.
Last month, data showed that loans to the private sector in the euro area had begun growing again, suggesting the ECB's monetary policy was gradually working.
The overall eurozone money supply grew by five percent in June, the same rate as in May, the ECB said.
The latest figure was slightly below analysts' forecasts polled by financial services firm FactSet who had pencilled in an increase of 5.1 percent in June.
Howard Archer, of IHS Global Insight, said the data showed positive, if tentative, progress.
"Loans to the private sector are trending in the right direction, albeit gradually so far.
"Overall, the evidence indicates that the ECB's Quantitative Easing programme (which started in March), its previous stimulus measures and improved eurozone economic activity have combined to improve the supply of bank loans."