South Africa’s Credit Growth Slows as Spending Eases

South African credit growth slowed more than expected in April as consumer spending eased and a series of public holidays curtailed loan applications.

Borrowing by households and businesses rose 7.3 percent, down from 9.2 percent in March, the Pretoria-based Reserve Bank said on its website today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 13 economists was 9 percent.

Consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of expenditure in South Africa (SBK), has led a rebound in Africa’s biggest economy since a recession ended in 2009. The central bank has kept the repurchase rate at 5.5 percent for a record 18 months to shore up a recovery that’s under threat from a debt crisis in Europe.

“Until we see a marked improvement in the property market, we won’t see any significant growth in credit,” Shireen Darmalingam, a Johannesburg-based economist at Standard Bank Group Ltd., said in a telephone interview. “The next couple of months could be very challenging. I don’t believe today’s data really has an impact” on interest rates.

Economic growth slowed to an annualized 2.7 percent in the first quarter from 3.2 percent in the previous three months, the statistics agency said yesterday. Expansion of the wholesale and retail industries eased to 3 percent from 5.2 percent, it said.

The broad M3 measure of money supply rose 6.2 percent in April from a year earlier, compared with 6.7 percent in March, the central bank said. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey was 7.4 percent.

The rand was at 8.3578 per dollar at 9:09 a.m. in Johannesburg, down from 8.3434 before the data was released.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net; Franz Wild in Johannesburg at fwild@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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