OTTAWA, May 23 (Reuters) - Lending to small Canadian businesses picked up in March as gains were seen in the manufacturing and construction industries, boding well for stronger economic growth in the coming months, data showed on Wednesday.
The PayNet Small Business Lending index rose to 118.9 in March from a downwardly revised 110.6 the month before. The index for medium-sized firms increased to 202.7 from 188.2 in the same time frame.
“That’s an indication the smaller businesses are getting in the game, they’re finding some reasons to invest and put money to work,” said PayNet President Bill Phelan.
Increased investment by small businesses can lead economic growth by two to five months, Phelan said.
Lending to small businesses increased in a number of sectors, including manufacturing, which rose to 67.6 from 66.9, while construction was up at 153.7 from 150.6.
“We’ve got a broad base now, it’s not just one industry carrying the load,” said Phelan.
The number of small firms that were 30 days or more behind on their loans rose to 0.96 percent from 0.88 percent, though those that were delinquent by 90 days or more held steady at 0.29 percent. (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Diane Craft)