Small-business lending, seen as an early indicator of growth in the U.S., increased 16% in September compared with the same month last year, the highest level in nearly two years, according to the Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index. "This doesn't point to anything but a robust recovery," said William Phelan, PayNet's founder and president. "These small businesses are people who see the demand in the economy every day, and they are alert to react very quickly to that demand."

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