Small business lending cools in April for fourth month

NEW YORK Fri Jun 1, 2012 5:13am EDT

A shop displays its wares on its window along Hollywood boulevard in Hollywood, California February 22, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake

A shop displays its wares on its window along Hollywood boulevard in Hollywood, California February 22, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lending to small business in the United States eased in April for the fourth month in a row as companies were hesitant to bulk up their operations, boding poorly for stronger economic growth, a report showed on Friday.

The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index, which measures the overall volume of financing to U.S. small businesses, fell to 94.1 from 96.0 in March, PayNet said.

Compared with a year earlier borrowing rose 7 percent, the lowest 12-month growth rate since July 2010. The lending index is correlated with changes in overall economic growth several months in advance.

"These businesses are cautious," said PayNet founder Bill Phelan.

"They're holding back on new investments and expansions in their businesses, and that's really a result of the view of uncertainty in the marketplace."

Accounts in moderate delinquency, or those behind by 30 days or more, fell to 1.29 percent from 1.39 percent in March. That's far below the high of 4.42 percent reached in May 2009.

Accounts 90 days or more behind in payments, or in severe delinquency, edged down to 0.35 percent from 0.36 percent.

Accounts behind 180 days or more, considered to be in default and unlikely ever to be paid, eased to 0.43 percent from 0.48 percent.

PayNet collects real-time loan information, such as originations and delinquencies, from more than 250 leading U.S. capital equipment lenders.

(Reporting By Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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