Banks piled into emerging markets at a record pace earlier this year, highlighting the scale of the global search for yield that has partially reversed since the US Federal Reserve said it intended to slow its bond buying. Cross-border lending to emerging markets surged by $267bn, to an estimated $3.4tn, in the first quarter of 2013, the Bank for International Settlements said on Sunday. The BIS said the 8.4 per cent increase was by far the highest recorded, with the amount of interbank lending rising by almost $200bn, or 12 per cent, reported the Financial Times newspaper. The so-called central bankers’ bank, which compiles what are widely regarded as the most comprehensive set of statistics on cross-border capital flows, said in its latest Quarterly Review that 85 per cent of the rise was accounted for by more lending to China, Brazil and Russia. The publication of the figures comes as the US Federal Open Market Committee gears up for its policy meeting, ending on Wednesday, when it could decide the timing and pace at which it will slow its $85bn worth of monthly bond purchases. With interest rates close to zero across advanced economies and liquidity abundant as a result of their central banks’ mass bond-buying sprees, credit has flowed into emerging markets in recent years as lenders and investors sought higher returns. According to the BIS data, interbank lending to emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region alone has doubled since the investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed five years ago. Lending to emerging markets has shown signs of retrenchment since Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Fed, signalled in May that the US central bank had begun to consider unwinding its exceptional monetary stimulus. The expectation of a return to higher interest rates in advanced economies in the years ahead has led to a retreat – particularly from emerging markets with large current account deficits such as India – although the pace of that retrenchment has slowed in recent weeks.