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U.S. small business loans in arrears rise: PayNet

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Delinquencies among small and medium-sized U.S. businesses on the loans, leases and lines of credit they use to finance investment in capital equipment rose in August, PayNet Inc reported on Thursday.

Accounts in moderate delinquency, or those behind by 30 days or more, rose to 4.40 percent in August from 4.36 percent in July, said PayNet, which provides risk-management tools to the commercial lending industry.

Accounts 90 days or more behind in payment, or in severe delinquency, improved modestly, slipping to 1.51 percent in August from 1.52 percent in July. But those that were 180 days behind, or considered to be in default, rose to 0.81 percent in August from 0.78 percent in July.

The report is the latest to suggest the U.S. economy, which slipped into recession in December 2007, is experiencing a patchy rebound.

“The recovery that seems to be under way for large corporations and the stock market and certain parts of the economy doesn’t seem to have arrived yet for these companies,” said Bill Phelan, president and founder of Skokie, Illinois-based PayNet.

Separately, PayNet said its small business lending index, which had risen in June and July, fell at an annual rate of 20 percent in August.

“It’s too early to call it a trend,” Phelan said. “But it’s a little disheartening because this kind of activity is a leading indicator for gross domestic product.”

PayNet collects real-time loan information, such as originations and delinquencies, from more than 225 leading U.S. capital equipment lenders.

The company’s proprietary database encompasses more than 15 million current and historic contracts, worth $645 billion.

More than half the money invested in plants, equipment and software in the United States in any given year is financed with loans, leases and lines of credit.

Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Leslie Adler

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