Bank lending to euro zone companies grew at the fastest pace since the end of the global financial crisis last month as the European Central Bank tries to stimulate the economy after years of anaemic growth. 

The figures suggest that unprecedented stimulus, including negative interest rates and free central bank loans to the bank sector, are slowly making their way through the economy.

However key policymakers continue to argue that the impact of the measures is so far weaker than expected. 

Lending to non-financial corporations grew by 2.2% in November, the highest since the middle of 2009.

Lending growth to households also accelerated to 1.9%, the fastest pace since the middle of 2011, the ECB said today. 

The figures show that lending grew as composite corporate borrowing costs and household mortgage rates are both holding at record lows, well below 2%, thanks to years of monetary easing by the ECB. 

Also suggesting firming growth, the M3 measure of money circulating in the euro zone, which has in the past predicted future economic activity, accelerated to hit 4.8% in November, beating forecasts for 4.4% growth. 

Still, the ECB has committed to maintaining its asset buys to help keep financing conditions low, at least until the end of next year, as inflation remains well short of its target. 

Likely hitting 1% around the turn of the year, inflation is still well short of the ECB's target of 2%. 

A weaker euro and a big rise in oil prices could boost inflation in the coming year, analysts said.