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Short-term borrowing costs for financial institutions have fallen to the lowest since August relative to U.S. Treasury bills in a sign of growing investor confidence that banks will weather Europe’s escalating debt crisis and the slowing economy.

The difference between what U.S. financial institutions and the government pay to borrow for three months has narrowed by almost 50 percent since December to 32 basis points. The gap between the commercial paper and Treasury bill rates has shrunk from a 2 1/2-year high of 58 basis points on Dec. 8. A separate measure of debt-market stress, the two-year interest-rate swap spread, is near an 11-month low.

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