Todd Buell
The Wall Street Journal
January 3, 2014

Lending to the private sector in the euro zone plunged in November at the sharpest annual rate since records began more than 20 years ago, data from the European Central Bank showed Friday, suggesting that the region will struggle to get its anticipated economic recovery into full gear.

Private-sector lending in the euro zone declined by 2.3% on the year, after a 2.2% decline in October, the ECB said. The decline suggests that financial institutions remain wary of extending new credit to households and businesses amid doubts over the economic outlook.

The euro zone emerged from a lengthy recession during the second quarter of last year, but the recovery has been fragile, with gross domestic product expanding just 0.4%, at an annualized rate, during the third quarter. Recent economic reports suggest the economy didn’t gain much steam in the fourth quarter. Unemployment is near record highs.

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