U.S. banks saw increased demand for lending in the first quarterand made loans easier to get, according to a Federal Reservesurvey.

“Domestic banks generally reported having eased their lendingstandards and having experienced stronger demand over the pastthree months,” the Fed said today in Washington in its quarterlysurvey of senior loan officers. It said the number of banksreporting eased standards and improved demand, rather than thereverse, was “modest.”

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke this month cited improving creditconditions as removing a restraint to faster growth that shouldallow the economy to “approach more quickly its longer-run fullemployment level.” In its April 25 statement, the Federal OpenMarket Committee said it expects growth to remain moderate overcoming quarters and then to “pick up gradually.”

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