March 1 (Reuters) - Borrowing by small U.S. firms fell in January to the lowest level in three months, data released on Wednesday showed, a signal that small-business owners are not betting on faster demand for the coming year, at least not yet.
The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index fell to 123.3 in January from 134 in December, and was the lowest since October, when the index sank to 119.8.
Movements in the index typically correspond with changes in gross domestic product growth a quarter or two ahead.
U.S. President Donald Trump has embraced a range of potential new policies, including tax cuts and infrastructure programs, and bets those policies will boost corporate profits have driven U.S. equities to record levels since his election in November
But some of Trump’s policies, including on immigration and trade, have increased uncertainty in some sectors.
Small business borrowing is a key barometer of growth because small companies tend to do much of the hiring that drives economic gains.
Meanwhile, companies are not finding it any harder to pay back existing debts, PayNet data also showed. The share of loans more than 30 days past due was unchanged in January at 1.66 percent.
PayNet collects real-time loan information such as originations and delinquencies from more than 325 leading U.S. lenders. (Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)