The average daily balance of bank lending fell 4.8 percent in March from a year earlier to 397.37 trillion yen, down for the 75th straight month.

The Bank of Japan said Monday in a preliminary report that the combined balance of loans at five types of banks fell below 400 trillion yen for the eighth month in a row.

The downtrend reflects continued weak demand for funds by companies striving to reduce debts.

The data cover banks with nationwide branch networks, known as city banks, long-term credit banks, trust banks, regional banks and second-tier regional banks.

Including the data for “shinkin” credit banks, the balance of bank loans fell for the 39th straight month, down 4.3 percent to 459.6 trillion yen.

Adjusted for special factors — loan securitization, exchange-rate fluctuations and the allocation of loan-loss reserves — the loan balance, excluding loans by shinkin banks, fell 1.6 percent to 410.49 trillion yen in March, down for the 66th consecutive month.

Before adjustment for special factors, the loan balance fell 7.7 percent at city banks, long-term credit banks and trust banks, and edged down 0.1 percent at regional banks.

The balance fell 2.7 percent at second-tier regional banks and 0.7 percent at shinkin banks.

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