Bulls on margin lending spree

Investors are expected to boost their borrowings to buy shares this year as domestic and global sharemarkets continue to bounce back. At the end of December, the Commonwealth Bank's margin lending business had $3.2 billion in loans while Macquarie Bank's margin lending operations were up 250 per cent on a year earlier. Reserve Bank figures show there were $11.88 million in margin loans at the end of November. Margin calls fell steeply last year from 44,300 in the first quarter to only 8,100 in the September quarter. Macquarie says last year's margin calls were dominated by large widely-held stocks such as AMP and Aristocrat Leisure which performed poorly and had large corrections.