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Borrowing by small U.S. firms ticked up in November, data released on Thursday showed, as Americans unexpectedly elected Republican Donald Trump as their next president and investors bid up U.S. stocks on bets that tax cuts will boost profits.
The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index rose to 129.9 in November from a downwardly revised 119.8 in October. Measured from a year earlier, it was the first increase in six months. Movements in the index typically correspond with movements in gross domestic product growth a quarter or two ahead.
"Right now we've got this post-election bounce, because we know who will be in office," said Bill Phelan, PayNet's chief executive and founder. "Is this going to continue into a new era of growth or no? That's unclear."
Trump has embraced a range of potential new policies, including tax cuts and infrastructure programs that boosters say will feed growth and critics say could add to already high national debt, as well as changes to trade agreements that many economists, even those who support Trump, say could hurt U.S. growth overall.
Economic growth in the United States sped up in the third quarter to a 3.5 percent annual pace.
While the Atlanta Fed currently estimates economic growth eased to 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter, that is still well above the 2 percent that many economists believe is a sustainable long-term pace.
Small business borrowing is a key barometer of growth because small companies tend to do much of the hiring that drives economic gains.
Companies also are having an easier time paying back existing debts, PayNet data showed. The share of loans more than 30 days past due slipped in November to 1.67 percent, the first decline in nearly a year.
PayNet collects real-time loan information such as originations and delinquencies from more than 325 leading U.S. lenders.