(Bloomberg) -- The total stock of Swedish home loans shrank for the first time in February, as mortgage rates rise and the country’s housing market remains sluggish.

The volume of outstanding mortgages declined by 274 million Swedish kronor ($26.4 million) from the previous month, according to data from Statistics Sweden, which provides figures dating back to 2001. Total lending to households grew 2.8% on year in February, marking the 10th consecutive month of slowing credit growth.

The data shows how Sweden’s faltering housing market is affecting lending to households. In a move that has become emblematic of a global development, Swedish home prices lost about 15% of their value from a peak in February last year. The drop in outstanding loans also indicates that households are paying off loans to cut cost, as short-term mortgage rates reached the highest level in 11 years in February.

While some signs of housing-market stabilization have been reported in recent months, most economists expect prices to fall further as mortgage rates keep rising. The Swedish central bank has taken its benchmark rate to 3% from zero in the past 12 months, and has said it expects another increase next month. 

Data published Monday by real-estate listing site Booli also shows that housing supply remains elevated and ads remain on the site about twice as long as has been the norm in recent years. 

--With assistance from Joel Rinneby.

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