OTTAWA Oct 18 Lending to Canadian small and
medium-sized companies accelerated in August as activity in the
manufacturing sector picked up, a report showed on Tuesday,
boding well for stronger business investment.
The PayNet Canadian Small Business Lending index rose to
123.2 in August from 118.8 the month before, while the index of
medium-sized firms increased to 218.8 from 204.8.
Although both measures were still down compared to a year
earlier, by 6 percent and 2 percent respectively, the annual
declines were not as steep as had been seen in July.
Manufacturing firms led the gains, with lending to
businesses surging 16 percent compared to a year before.
Economists have been looking for the sector to help drive growth
as the oil-exporting economy adjusts to lower oil prices.
"We've needed something all along to pick up the slack for
energy and manufacturing is doing it," said PayNet President
The year-over-year decline in the retail and accommodation
and food industries also moderated, suggesting consumers were
Companies' financial health also looked strong, with the
amount of small businesses 30 days or more behind on their loans
falling to 1.12 percent from 1.17 percent. Firms that were 90
days or more in arrears held steady at 0.35 percent.
(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by James Dalgleish)