The latest sign the lending environment might be improving for small businesses comes from a survey of bank risk managers. The majority predicted demand for small-business loans would rise in the coming months, and 62% said they expected there would be adequate lending to meet this demand. "The upbeat sentiment makes me think it's possible that we'll see small businesses picking up the pace of investing and hiring in the months ahead," said Andrew Jennings, chief analytics officer for FICO.

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