SEOUL, Jan. 29 (Yonhap) — South Korean banks’ lending rates edged up in December last year amid rising market rates, central bank data showed Friday.

The average interest rate charged on new bank loans came to 2.74 percent in December, up 0.03 percentage point from the previous month, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The BOK cut the key interest rate to a record low of 0.5 percent in May last year after delivering an emergency rate cut of half a percentage point in March to cushion the impact of the new coronavirus outbreak.

The central bank kept the base rate steady this month amid heightened economic uncertainties over a new wave of global coronavirus infections.

The average rate for bank deposits, meanwhile, came to 0.9 percent in December, unchanged from September, the BOK said.

South Korean lenders’ loan-deposit spread, a gauge of banks’ profitability from lending, stood at 1.84 percent in December, up 0.03 percentage point from a month earlier.

In this photo, taken on Sept. 18, 2020, a bank official explains a loan product to a visiting customer. (Yonhap)