Winter reasserted its annual grip on banking activity with consumer lending showing signs of a seasonal pullback in January.
American Banker's Index of Banking Activity (IBA) edged slightly lower for the month, coming in at 54.3, compared to 55.6 in December. The score extended for another month a series of readings that have seen the IBA hold to a very tight range.
Relatively weak headline readings have become the rule for the IBA in winter months, and the start to this year offers little evidence of a change in that trend.
If anything, January's scores at the component level suggest that this year's retreat could be a bit more severe than in past years — four components tallied their lowest monthly scores since the inception of the index: consumer loan applications, consumer loan approvals, deposit pricing and real estate conditions. (One new high was reached as well in the component that tracks consumer loan rejections.)
On balance, however, the data reveal an industry continuing to reap the early benefits of pricing power on new loans, an effect that bodes well assuming spring brings its customary bounce.