BAD loans held by Spanish financial institutions rose to a new 13-year high in December as banks reined in new credit and borrowers struggled to repay debts as recession maintained its grip on the economy.

Non-performing loans (NPL) as a percentage of total credit for Spain's banks and financing cooperatives, but excluding retail credit cards, rose to 5.08 percent in December from 4.93 percent in November, Bank of Spain data showed yesterday as the country remains gripped by recession. Bad loans rose by 5.3 billion euros to 93.305 billion euros in December, while total lending rose by 5.9 billion euros to 1.792 trillion euros.