Small Business Lending Rises In August

(Reuters) - Lending to small U.S. businesses rose in August for a second straight month, a report showed on Monday, a sign the economy may have been regaining its footing even before the U.S. central bank's latest round of stimulus.

The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index, which measures the overall volume of financing to small U.S. companies, rose to 109.9 from July's upwardly revised 106.7, PayNet said. It was the highest level this year.

PayNet had initially reported the July figure as 103.8.

Borrowing was up 10 percent from a year earlier.

"We've got a winning streak going," PayNet founder Bill Phelan said.

"These business owners are looking out three, to six, to nine months, and they are seeing some positive profit-producing opportunities: there must be something these business owners are seeing."

The Federal Reserve last month unleashed a new round of bond-buying to lower borrowing costs and spur businesses to spend and, eventually, to hire.

PayNet's lending index typically correlates to economic growth a quarter or two in the future.

Separate PayNet data showed companies were under less financial stress. Accounts overdue by 30 days fell to a new record low - 1.16 percent of the total - from 1.18 percent the previous month.

Longer-term delinquency rates also eased. Accounts behind 90 days or more, or in severe delinquency, dipped to 0.25 percent from 0.27 percent.

Accounts behind 180 days or more, which are considered in default and unlikely to be paid, fell to 0.32 percent from 0.34 percent.

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 Dale Hudson)