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Credit loans soar again amid relaxed rules, bullish market

Credit loans climbed back up in the first week of 2021, fueled by a bullish stock market and eased bank loan rules, data showed Sunday.

The total credit loan balance of the major five commercial banks -- KB Kookmin, Shinhan, KEB Hana, Woori and NH Honghyup -- stood at 134.1 trillion won ($122.6 billion) as of Jan. 7, adding 453 billion won from 133.6 trillion won at the end of 2020.

The number of new credit loans via overdraft accounts almost doubled from 1,048 on Dec. 31 to 1,960 on Jan. 7. The overdraft balance also rose by 241.1 billion won to 46.7 trillion won in the first seven days of the new year.
 
Bank loans (Yonhap)
Bank loans (Yonhap)
The new credit loan hike came after lenders eased their tightened rules that had been imposed since December in the aftermath of the record-high new credit loans in November. Financial authorities tightened lending regulations as credit loans jumped to 133.69 trillion won at the end of November, adding a record 4.85 trillion won in new credit loans within a month.

The lenders had lowered credit loan limits by halting new loans or putting caps on loans as part of the management of the total debt level in accordance with government guidelines.

For instance, Woori Bank and Shinhan Bank last week resumed sales of online loan products that had been halted since December. KB Kookmin Bank eliminated the 20 million-won per household cap on personal loans.

The demand for new loans was also backed by investors who want to ride a rally in a bull market with leverage. The Kospi touched the 3,000-point milestone Wednesday for the first time and closed the week up 3.97 percent Friday, the largest daily gain in nearly seven months.

“As the stock market heats up with the start of the new year, there seem to be investors rushing to invest even with loans,” said a bank official. “Also, some want to take out loans in advance before the rules get tightened again.”

By Park Ga-young (gypark@heraldcorp.com)
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