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(Adds central bank estimate for credit stock)
BRASILIA, April 24 (Reuters) - Growth in outstanding loans in Brazil's banking system rose 1.2 percent in March from the previous month, the central bank said in a report on Friday.
The 90-day default ratio, the most widely followed gauge of loan delinquencies, came to 4.4 percent last month, unchanged from February, the bank said.
A contracting economy is pushing private-sector banks to boost already high levels of credit-loss provisions to deal with rising corporate defaults.
Moody's Investors Service warned on Thursday of a deterioration in Brazilian banks' assets quality as the economy continues to underperform. The rating agency stressed higher risk for medium-sized banks and state-run lenders.
The downturn and an investigation into a multibillion-dollar corruption scheme at state oil company Petrobras is tightening credit in Latin America's biggest economy.
The central bank on Friday reduced its forecast for credit stock in Brazil to represent 57 percent of the gross domestic product this year from a previous estimate of 61 percent.
The rise in lending in March was due to a recovery in demand for corporate credit, which the central bank said is common during that period of the year. (Reporting by Marcela Ayres; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Ted Botha)