BRASILIA (Reuters) – Loan defaults in Brazil fell to historic lows in October, figures showed on Friday, in further evidence of the economy’s recovery and that the central bank’s steps to loosen financial conditions were working.
Key measures of household and business loan defaults were their lowest since the central bank’s data series began in 2011, although lending spreads widened slightly from the previous month’s record lows.
A broad 90-day default ratio covering households and businesses fell to 3.1% in October from 3.2% in September, the central bank said, the lowest since the bank’s data series began in 2011.
(Graphic: Brazil loan defaults https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/nmopadrqrva/DEFAULTS.png)
The default ratio for non-financial companies fell to a record low 1.5% from 1.6%, while the broad measure of household defaults, including borrowing such as auto loans and overdrafts, also fell to a series low of 4.5% from 4.6% the month before.
Lending spreads, however, widened to 21.5 percentage points from September’s record low 21.2 percentage points, the central bank said. That was still significantly down from 29 percentage points in February before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The central bank has made available more than 1.2 trillion reais worth of credit and liquidity to businesses, banks and financial markets to cushion the economic shock of COVID-19.
Central bank president Roberto Campos Neto said this week that these measures are “here to stay”, although they will be modified. Their implementation marks a “structural change”, he said.
The government has also provided direct cash transfers to tens of millions of Brazil’s poorest people. These measures appear to have helped revive lending and economic activity, and stave off loan defaults.
The stock of outstanding loans in Brazil rose 1.4% in October to 3.9 trillion reais ($730.3 billion), the central bank said. Corporate loans rose 1% on the month to 1.7 trillion reais, and personal loans increased 1.7% to 2.2 trillion reais.
Loan growth over the last 12 months accelerated 14.5%, the central bank said.
($1 = 5.34 reais)
(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; editing by John Stonestreet and Chizu Nomiyama)