Loans and advances to the private sector rose at their slowest pace in more than a decade in February, defying economists who expected an acceleration of economic activity and demand for credit after the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

In a clear sign consumers and businesses are still holding back in spite of record-low interest rates, growth in private-sector credit extension slowed to 2.62% in 2020, the weakest since July 2010, compared with 3.26% in January, Reserve Bank data showed on Tuesday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg ahead of the release forecast 3.4%...

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