U.S. banks saw increased demand for lending in the first quarter and made loans easier to get, according to a Federal Reserve survey.
“Domestic banks generally reported having eased their lending standards and having experienced stronger demand over the past three months,” the Fed said today in Washington in its quarterly survey of senior loan officers. It said the number of banks reporting eased standards and improved demand, rather than the reverse, was “modest.”
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Financials Index, which tracks the performance of 81 companies, has risen 18.4 percent this year, compared with an 11 percent increase in the broader S&P 500 Index. The S&P 500 index remained lower today after the Fed’s report. The index fell 0.6 percent to 1,394.64 at 2:44 p.m. in New York.
Demand for new U.S. homes was stronger than projected in March, showing more jobs and cheaper borrowing costs are helping stabilize the market. Houses sold at a 328,000 annual rate, down from an upwardly revised 353,000 pace in February that was the highest in two years, according to Commerce Department data last week.