Small companies borrow more but are still cautious

NEW YORK (AP) ? Lending to small businesses rose only slightly in July, another sign that companies are hunkering down because of uncertainty about the economy.

PayNet, a research firm that tracks loans to small business, says that lending rose 3 percent after falling five of the previous six months. The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index rose to 103.8 in July from a revised 100.5 in June.

PayNet’s findings are in line with other surveys and reports that point to slower business at small companies. The Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday that the manufacturing industry, including many small companies, had its third straight drop in activity during August.

PayNet bases its index on new commercial loans and leases granted to small businesses by U.S. lenders.