South Korea household borrowing grows further, countermeasures eyed

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s household borrowing grew in July for a fourth straight month and by the biggest amount in almost two years, central bank data showed on Wednesday, amid mounting worries by policymakers.

Total borrowing from banks increased by 6.0 trillion won ($4.55 billion) to stand at a fresh record high of 1,068.1 trillion won at the end of July, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).

It was bigger than the monthly increase of 5.8 trillion won in June and the biggest since September 2021.

Growth in mortgage loans eased to 6.0 trillion won from 6.9 trillion won the previous month, but the fall in other loans softened to a marginal 0.01 trillion won from 1.2 trillion won.

There was some demand for stock investment, contributing to higher borrowing, and seasonal factors at the start of the second half of the year, a BOK official told a briefing.

South Korea’s central bank held interest rates steady for a fourth straight meeting last month, but the board members kept the door open for further tightening, expressing concern about rising household debts among others.

The country’s financial regulator said in a separate statement that it would prepare a pre-emptive measure for stable management of household debts in the second half, if deemed necessary.

($1 = 1,318.4400 won)

(Reporting by Jihoon Lee; Editing by Lincoln Feast)