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South Africa’s Credit Growth at Fastest Pace Since 2009

South African credit expanded at the fastest pace in more than 2 1/2 years in January, easing pressure on the central bank to provide more stimulus to the economy.

Borrowing by households and businesses rose 7.3 percent from a year earlier, up from a revised 6.1 percent in December, the Pretoria-based Reserve Bank said on its website today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 11 economists was 7.1 percent.

The central bank “must be heartened by the numbers coming out this morning,” Colen Garrow, an economist at Brait SA in Johannesburg, said in a telephone interview. “The numbers seem to be headed in the right direction.”

The central bank kept its benchmark interest rate at 5.5 percent last year to support consumer spending after a slump in manufacturing and mining production. Economic growth accelerated to an annualized 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter from a revised 1.7 percent in the previous three months, as mining and manufacturing rebounded.

The Reserve Bank gives the next monetary policy decision on March 29.

The broad M3 measure of money supply rose 6.6 percent in January from a year earlier, from 8.2 percent in December, the central bank said. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey was 8.6 percent.

The rand was little changed at 7.4703 per dollar at 8:30 a.m. Johannesburg time. The yield on the benchmark rand bond due in 2015 fell 1 basis point, to 0.01 percentage point, to 6.64 percent.

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