Lending in Saudi Arabia increases 21%

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Lending to consumers by Saudi banks increased 21 percent last year compared with 2011, the kingdom's central bank said.

Lending increased to SAR292bn ($78bln) in 2012 from SR 242.24 billion ($64.5bln), the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency said.

SAMA's Governor Fahad al-Mubarak said last week he was not concerned about inflation and current bank lending rates, saying that credit growth was in the private sector is consistent with the central bank's policies and described inflation as "tolerable."

Lending in the first month of the year increased 15.9 percent, down from 16.4 percent in December.

Inflation is forecast at about 4.6 percent in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund, compared with 4.9 percent the year before.

The kingdom's economy is projected to grow 4.2 percent this year, slowing from about 6 percent in 2012, according to the Washington-based organization.

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