(Reuters) - U.S. small businesses pared borrowing in January after a record prior month, according to data released on Tuesday.
The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index fell to 120.9 from an upwardly revised December reading of 133.5, the highest since the index’s launch in January 2005.
From a year earlier, the index was up 3 percent, suggesting the U.S. economy is “still on track with continued expansion,” PayNet founder Bill Phelan said.
Extreme cold muted business investment, he said, and businesses at the beginning of the year were also still digesting the large investments they made in the previous year.
The index has historically tracked U.S. gross domestic product growth two to five months ahead.
Loan delinquencies ticked up to 1.54 percent, separate PayNet data showed, a sign that, despite the overall increase in borrowing in 2014, businesses are for the most part repaying what they owe.
PayNet collects real-time loan information such as originations and delinquencies from more than 250 leading U.S. lenders.
Reporting by Ann Saphir. Editing by Andre Grenon