Europe's battered financial sector is showing tentative signs of healing, even if it is still too early to sound the all-clear, a key ECB survey showed on Wednesday.
Credit conditions in the euro area are still being tightened, but are set to start to ease again in coming months, the European Central Bank found in its quarterly bank lending survey.
The net percentage of banks expecting to tighten their loan criteria for businesses and households eased to 5.0 percent in the third quarter from 7.0 percent in the second quarter, the ECB said.
And in the fourth quarter, banks are actually projecting a net easing of credit conditions for enterprises for the first time since the end of 2009.
Similarly, lending conditions for both consumer credit and housing loans are also expected to ease for the first time since the end of 2010.
At the same time, the survey found that banks' access to retail and wholesale funding had continued to improve in the third quarter of 2013 as tensions in the sovereign debt markets continue to decline, the ECB said.