Japan firms pay back loans

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    TOKYO – Japanese bank lending rose at a slower annual pace in September than the previous month as corporate funding strains caused by the pandemic eased mainly among big borrowers, central bank data showed on Monday.

    But lending by regional banks remained high as smaller firms continued to borrow heavily to meet immediate funding needs, the data showed, underscoring the lingering economic pain brought by the health crisis.

    “Big companies that had borrowed huge amounts of funds as a precaution around spring are now paying back some of the loans due to easing uncertainty over the pandemic,” a BOJ official told a briefing.

    “But that’s not to say conditions have improved. There are gaps among industries on how much their profits have recovered.”

    Total bank lending rose 6.4 percent in September from the same month a year earlier, slower than a 6.7 percent gain in August, to a record 573.7 trillion yen ($5.43 trillion), Bank of Japan data showed.

    The pace of lending by major banks slowed to 7.3 percent in September from 8.0 percent in August.