| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Feb 4 Borrowing by small U.S.
businesses rose marginally in December, eking out a tiny gain
for the year and suggesting headwinds for economic growth for
the first few months of 2013, a report on Monday showed.
The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index,
which measures the overall volume of financing to small U.S.
companies, rose to 112 from an upwardly revised 111.1 in
November, PayNet said.
Borrowing was up just 1 percent from a year earlier.
PayNet had initially reported the November figure as 108.3.
PayNet founder Bill Phelan, located in Chicago, said the
index suggests small businesses "haven't come out of their
shell." PayNet's lending index typically correlates to overall
economic growth one or two quarters in the future.
"It's underwhelming," he said. "The next two to five months
are going to be pretty slow."
Small businesses are often responsible for the bulk of new
job creation after recessions. The recent recession ended in
2009, but sluggish growth has meant weak job growth, and
unemployment in January rose to 7.9 percent.
Separate PayNet data showed financial stress at
near-record-low levels. Accounts overdue by 30 days fell to 1.20
percent of the total from 1.21 percent the previous month. A
"normal" rate of delinquency is 1.5 percent to 1.6 percent,
Longer-term delinquency rates also eased. Accounts behind
180 days or more, which are considered in default and unlikely
to be paid, dipped to 0.24 percent from 0.27 percent.
Accounts behind 90 days or more, or in severe delinquency,
fell to 0.26 percent, from 0.27 percent.
PayNet collects real-time loan information, such as
originations and delinquencies, from more than 250 leading U.S.