Europe's credit squeeze shows signs of easing

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — New data are showing that Europe's squeeze on credit to consumers and businesses may be easing slightly.

The European Central Bank's quarterly lending survey showed that banks on balance are no longer tightening their standards for giving people mortgage loans. Slightly more banks reported easier home loan standards than reported they were tightening credit.

The survey released Thursday also found "a small net easing in loans" to companies as fewer banks reported tighter standards. The ECB has cut its interest rate benchmark to a record low 0.25 percent. But those low rates often do not make it through to the economy in the form of cheaper, more abundant loans — a key factor holding back Europe's still-weak economic recovery. The eurozone grew a bare 0.1 percent in the third quarter.

Related Headlines

  • European lending lags, sign recovery remains weak

    New figures show that European banks are lending less to companies — another sign the continent's economic upswing remains less than robust. The European Central Bank reported ... 

  • European Central Bank faces tough choices

    The European Central Bank says it stands ready to do more, if needed, to boost a weak recovery. But each possible step faces significant drawbacks or even political opposition 

  • Falling inflation another headache for ECB

    On top of high unemployment and sluggish growth, the European Central Bank has a new headache: an unexpected drop in inflation. Most people think lower inflation is good news ... 

  • Mario Draghi

    European Central Bank keeps rates unchanged

    The European Central Bank kept its interest rates on hold Thursday even though the recovery has weakened in the 17-country euro currency union and inflation is forecast to ...