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Bank loan standards ease, loan demand up-Fed survey

WASHINGTON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that some banks continued to ease lending standards for businesses and consumers, while a number reported improved borrower appetite for real estate and auto loans in the last three months.

``Significant fractions of banks reported a strengthening of demand for commercial real estate loans, residential mortgages, and auto loans, on balance,'' the Fed said in its October survey of senior loan officers. ``Demand for most other types of loans was about unchanged.''

The quarterly poll of 68 domestic U.S. banks and 23 branches and affiliates of foreign firms, also examined lending to European banks and found that loan standards for these entities had continued to tighten.

The U.S. central bank has cut interest rates almost to zero and last month announced a third round of so-called quantitative easing to further drive down borrowing costs in the hope of encouraging businesses to invest and hire more U.S. workers.