Federal Reserve says Small biz loan demand up

A growing portion of the nation's banks saw a spike in demand for loans to smaller firms late last year, according to the latest Federal Reserve figures.Despite the uptick, nearly all banks surveyed kept their credit standards or loan terms the same.The survey, which used responses from senior loan officers at 56 U.S. banks, contained information about firms with annual revenues of $50 million or less. Although that range covers many mid-sized businesses, it also included small businesses.

The survey showed that 26% of banks experienced "moderately stronger" demand for commercial and industrial loans from small firms during the fourth quarter. That percentage was the highest all year, rising from 8% the previous quarter. But the updated data does not reveal a total rise in demand, as 62% of banks reported no change.The "data are consistent with a modest recovery and an uptick in business confidence," said Robert Litan, vice president of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation.