Vietnam's pace of loan growth is increasing, central bank says

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Lending by Vietnam's banks, which contracted early this year, now is picking up pace, according to the country's central bank.

It said that through May 22, the total amount of loans was 2.29 percent larger than at the end of 2012.

In the first two months this year, lending shrank. At the end of February, the total of bank loans was 0.3 percent below that at end-December.

Starting in March, lending began to increase. As of April 23, loans were 1.4 percent greater than at the end of last year.

The improved pace of lending "is an encouraging sign," the State Bank of Vietnam said in a Monday report, adding that several businesses with healthy finance have managed to take loans at rates of 7-8 percent, compared with 11-16 percent last month.

The expansion of loans could help increase Vietnam's economic growth rate this year. The government has projected gross domestic product will expand 5.5 percent in 2013, compared with 5.03 percent last year.

Bank shares, including Vietcombank and Sacombank , were among the best performers on Vietnam's stock market on Monday morning.

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