U.S. banks are relaxing their terms on credit cards and lending for autos and commercial real estate, according to a Federal Reserve survey.
"Domestic banks, on balance, continued to report having eased their lending standards across most loan types over the past three months," the Fed said Monday in its quarterly survey of senior loan officers.
Banks in the United States are lending the most since the recession ended in June 2009, supporting an economy burdened by 8.3% unemployment. Fed policymakers including Chairman Ben S. Bernanke weighed the results of the survey at their July 31-Aug. 1 meeting, at which they said they "will provide additional accommodation as needed" to support the economy.
The survey said banks loosened standards for loans to large and medium-size firms; standards for loans to small business were little changed.
Consumer lending standards for car financing and credit card loans eased, while standards for other consumer borrowing were largely unchanged, according to the Fed. Banks "reported stronger demand for auto loans" and an increase in demand for credit card loans, according to the survey.
A "relatively large" number of loan officers reported stronger demand for prime mortgages during the survey period, while lending standards for those home loans were little changed, the Fed said. Standards "tightened somewhat for nontraditional mortgages," according to the survey.
Increasing credit, along with rebounds in housing and autos, may provide "some underlying support" for economic growth, according to Michael Strauss, an economist at Commonfund in Wilton, Conn.