CBIA finds companies still leery of economy

The perceived availability of credit in the state reached a two-year high in the last three months of 2012, according to a quarterly survey released Wednesday by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association.

The CBIA said, however, that the demand for credit was lackluster in the fourth quarter, reflecting uncertainty in both the state and national economies.

"The fiscal cliff debate and the consequences of health care reform continue to undermine business confidence," Peter Gioia, CBIA economist, said in a statement.

"Many firms are curtailing plans for expansion until they see a tangible pickup in economic growth," added Don Klepper-Smith, chief economist at DataCore Partners in New Haven. "This means less hiring, and running business functions on the lean side with an eye towards caution."

The CBIA/Farmington Bank Credit Availability Survey showed a 10 percent improvement in the state's credit conditions between the second and fourth quarters of last year. Credit conditions in the final months of last year were more than a 20 percent improvement over the same quarter in 2011.

Future expectations about credit also were up in the latest survey.

Thirteen percent of respondents rated current conditions as good or excellent. But 54 percent said their ability to borrow money was only average.

Credit availability was seen as no problem by 81 percent of those surveyed, but 76 percent of respondents also weren't looking to borrow.

"Credit conditions remain in a primary upward trend," said John Patrick, president and chief executive of Farmington Bank, in a statement. "This is a welcome sign after two years of considerable volatility."

l.howard@theday.com

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