OTTAWA (Reuters) - Commercial borrowing by small and medium-sized businesses in Canada declined for the third straight quarter in the July-September quarter, a PayNet survey showed on Tuesday.
PayNet, which tracks commercial financing for millions of small and medium-sized businesses in North America, said its Canadian Business Lending Index slipped 2 percent in the third quarter to 209 from 213 in the second quarter.
Compared to a year earlier, the level of borrowing was flat.
"There's a definite trend toward less borrowing and less business investment," said Bill Phelan, president of PayNet. "It's really a pause, we think, rather than a sea change."
After strong growth following the global credit crisis, borrowing peaked in the fourth quarter of last year and has waned steadily since. As economic growth in the United States starts to kick in, Canada should see some benefit, which should boost business borrowing, Phelan said.
Moderate loan delinquencies - those that are behind in payments by 30 days or more - fell to 1.7 percent of loans in September from 1.8 percent the month before.
Loans that were more than 90 days late, which are considered loans in severe arrears, held steady at 0.38 percent.
Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Peter Galloway