Fed survey indicates a possible thawing in bank credit

A Federal Reserve survey found few banks tightened lending standards during the first quarter. Most banks maintained their lending standards, while a greater number expressed willingness to extend installment loans to consumers. "This is just one more feather in the cap of the recovery in the financial markets," said Michael Darda, chief economist at MKM Partners. "We're going in the right direction. The report is on an improving track which is consistent with improving spreads in the credit markets." But in key areas such as commercial real estate, residential mortgages and small-business credit card loans, terms and availability remained tight.

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