ECONOMY

Cyprus banks lose 1.3 pct of deposits in October

Consumers and companies withdrew deposits in October at a similar pace to the previous month from banks in Cyprus, where big account holders in the two largest lenders were forced to take a hit as part of an international bailout.

Private-sector deposits fell by 1.3 percent to 35.1 billion euros ($47.65 billion) after a 1 percent fall in September, European Central Bank data showed on Thursday.

They had peaked at 50.5 billion euros in May of last year and have now lost 30 percent of their deposit base in just 1-1/2 years, hitting the lowest level since April 2008.

Banks on the island were shut for nearly two weeks in March after Cyprus agreed a 10-billion-euro bailout, which forced major depositors to pay part of the cost of the rescue.

Capital controls are still in place on the island, with limits on how much people can transfer from their accounts. Cyprus is gradually easing the controls.

The data showed that deposits in other southern European countries mired in the debt crisis remained relatively stable.

Private-sector deposits fell about 1 percent in Spain and less than that in Italy, Slovenia, Ireland and Greece in October. They were up slightly in Portugal.

Monthly fluctuations in the figures are common, though sharp consecutive drops in countries with stable banking systems are unusual.

The data, which are for all currencies combined, are not seasonally adjusted and differ slightly from national central bank figures. They exclude deposits from central government and banks. [Reuters]