Banks' lending rates rise for 3rd month in Jan.

SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korean banks' lending rates rose for the third straight month in January as housing lending rate rose, the central bank said Thursday.

The average rate for new loans to households and firms stood at 4.53 percent in January, up 0.01 percentage point from the previous month, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The BOK froze the key interest rate at 2.5 percent for the ninth straight month in February after making its first rate cut in seven months in May last year.

The average rate for fresh household lending was 4.15 percent last month, up 0.05 percentage point from the month before, it said. The corresponding rate for corporate loans reached 4.62 percent, down 0.05 percentage point from December.

The average rate for bank deposits fell last month as market rates declined, the BOK added.

The average deposit rate came in at 2.65 percent last month, down 0.02 percentage point from December, it said.

South Korean lenders' loan-deposit spread, a gauge of banks' profitability from lending, reached 2.53 percent in January, unchanged from the previous month.

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