New figures on lending and deposits from the Central Bank show that credit to businesses continued to decline in the fourth quarter in both annual and quarterly terms. 

The Central Bank said that lending to non-financial, non-property small and medium sized businesses fell by 3.1% in the three months from October to December to stand at €24.5 billion at the end of the year.

Lending to such SMEs was down 6.2% over the year compared to a decline of 5% over the year to the end of 2012.

Gross new lending to non-financial, non-property businesses came to €1.9 billion  last year, down from the €2 billion recorded in 2012. Agriculture continued to comprise the biggest share of the gross new lending, the Central Bank said.

Credit advanced to SMEs fell by 2.1% over the quarter and by 5.3% in the year. The same decline was recorded in 2012.

Today's Central Bank figures also show that deposits held  by non-financial Irish private sector businesses rose by €1.6 billion or 4.1% in the last quarter of last year to stand at €39.3 billion. On a yearly basis, deposits from non-financial enterprises grew by 9.5%.