The Central Bank has pointed to an increasing level of credit card indebtedness over the second half of last year.

Figures released this morning show that new credit card spending in December was €1.2bn, 15.8% higher than a year earlier, while total credit card indebtedness was up 18.8% compared with December 2005.

The figures also show that total lending growth in the economy slowed to an annual rate of 25.9% in December, compared with 27.9% in November.

Total lending in the economy grew by €59bn in 2006 as a whole.

Non-mortgage credit growth was 31.7% in December, driven by strong lending in the property and construction sectors.

The rate of growth in residential mortgage lending in December was 25.5%, with a €2.1bn increase in the month alone. The rate has eased since a peak of 28% in March.