RESIDENTIAL mortgage lending activities were moderately active in November with gross loans during the month rising to $6.5 billion from $5.1 billion in October. The increase was slightly higher than the gross loans made in the past four months, which hovered around $5 billion to $6 billion. Yet this stronger growth was expected as an 18 per cent increase was recorded in loans approved in October. According to the latest monthly survey conducted by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the total amount of outstanding mortgage lending by the 33 institutions polled was up by 0.8 per cent in November, from $242.2 billion to $244.2 billion. Although the growth rate was higher than the 0.2 per cent in October, it was below the monthly average of 1.03 per cent over the last 12 months. 'The growth rate for November is in line with our expectations,' said the executive director of HKMA, Peter Pang. Following the 18 per cent rise in October, new loans approved but not yet drawn increased moderately by 3.7 per cent or $200 million to $4.9 billion in November. The number of approved new loan applications rose from 3,077 to 3,206 in November. 'These figures suggest that the growth of outstanding loans in December will continue to be modest,' Mr Pang said. The annualised rate of growth in lending over the last three months increased to 7.2 per cent, compared with 6.6 per cent in the three months to October. The 12-month average of outstanding loans remained stable at an annualised rate of 12.4 per cent, compared with 12.7 per cent in October. The lending figures came as no surprise to analysts. Jenny Ting, senior analyst of Mansion House Securities, said the mortgage lending figures showed that the market remained flat and quiet as people adopted a wait-and-see attitude. 'In addition to the reduced number of home buyers, developers have delayed sales of their new residential projects, which is partly responsible for the slowdown in mortgage business,' she said. Desmond Cheung, analyst of Vickers Ballas, said it was not surprising to see a flat growth in mortgage lending in view of the sluggish property market. With a slowdown in the growth of mortgage lending, he said the exposure of local banks to mortgage loans would probably drop to a more comfortable level in coming months and banks might be more generous in granting mortgages some time next year. He expected mortgage lending business to slow further in the next two months. Across the border, lending by the 33 institutions for the purchase of properties in China rose by three per cent in November, to $4.46 billion from $4.33 billion. The growth rate was the same in October. The increase was largely due to lending for residential properties. Gross loans made in November fell in number from 450 to 376 but increased in amount to $200 million from $186 million. New loans approved in November increased to 250 from 228 and in amount to $173 million from $149 million.