South Korean households and small and mid-sized companies are expected to face greater difficulty in taking out loans from local commercial banks in the fourth quarter.

The Bank of Korea(BOK) on Thursday announced that the lending attitude index of local financial institutions was minus 15 in the October to December period.

A reading below zero means the banks planning to tighten loan standards outnumber those planning to ease them. In the third quarter, the index stood at minus 18.

The BOK said the government measures announced early this year aimed at stabilizing the real estate market and household debt will continue to rein in commercial banks’ loan services.

The central bank also said the commercial banks are also toughening loan services for small and mid-sized companies particularly in response to the growing credit risks of retail, lodging and food industries as a result of a sharp decline in the number of Chinese tourists.