Small-business loans outstanding increased in the fourth quarter compared with Q3, the first gain since the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. began tracking loans quarterly in 2010. The amount reached $586 billion, up from $584 billion in Q3. Still, the overall level suggests small-business lending is weak, and other surveys indicate continued cautiousness among borrowers.
Concerns related to the Areva-EDF proposal to build European Pressurized Water Reactors in the U.K. could be resolved by year's end, the country's Office of Nuclear Regulation said. Two issues in the licensing review have been addressed, and the companies are working with the regulator to resolve other concerns. "We are pleased that the efforts have resulted in major progress towards securing [Generic Design Assessment] acceptance within the next few months," said Alain-Pierre Raynaud, Areva U.K. chairman.
The new reactor technologies of Westinghouse Electric and Areva secured interim design clearance from the U.K.'s Office for Nuclear Regulation. The companies still need to clarify some technicalities, but regulators said they were confident that the firms would address the issues. "This announcement marks a tremendous milestone on the road toward seeing AP1000 reactors built in the U.K.," said Mike Tynan, Westinghouse's vice president for the U.K., Middle East and Egypt. "This [announcement] will open the way to construction of the first EPR in the U.K. and all the benefits our low-carbon technology will bring in terms of employment and assured energy supply," said Alain-Pierre Raynaud, Areva's chief financial officer.