April 21 (Reuters) - Cross-border bank lending around the world was down sharply in the fourth quarter and was more widely spread than in previous quarters, the Bank for International Settlements said on Thursday.
The quarter brought the third consecutive decline in cross-border bank credit, which saw its outstanding stock decline to $26.4 trillion as of the end of December.
Overall, cross-border lending fell by $650 billion for the quarter, of which $267 billion of that was a decline in lending to banks in the euro area, the BIS said. Lending also declined to emerging market economies, which saw a $160 billion fall, for a year-over-year contraction of 8 percent, according to the BIS.
Cross-border lending can fall in a number of ways, ranging from a reduction in traditional loans to companies and banks paying back bond market debt.
Lending to residents of mainland China fell by $114 billion, and is down 25 percent year-over-year. (Writing by Bill Trott Editing by xxxx xxxxx)