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Lending rates rise reported by firms

By Colm Kelpie

A quarter of SMEs in Ireland reported an increase in bank lending rates in the six months to the end of March, according to a survey from the European Central Bank (ECB).

However, a separate study commissioned by the Irish Department of Finance for the same period concluded that fewer loans were being approved with conditions attached, and the interest rates for approved credit were also declining.

The ECB study said that between October and March, the income and debt situation of eurozone businesses improved slightly on balance, compared with the previous six months.

But developments across firms' size and countries remained considerably diverse. Wide divergences remain across eurozone countries concerning problems faced by SMEs.

Some 34% of the SMEs in Greece, 15% in Ireland and 15% in the Netherlands named access to finance as the most important problem, compared to only 7% in Germany and Austria. However, in Ireland and other countries, it is becoming less of an issue.

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