As U.S. economy steadies, bank closings rarer
WASHINGTON – Fewer U.S. banks are failing than at any time since the financial crisis erupted in 2008. The healthier banking industry is helping sustain an economy slowed by lackluster hiring, weak manufacturing and Europe’s debt crisis.
Banks have benefited from low interest rates, higher account fees and more mergers. The recovery from the financial crisis has helped, too. It means more people and businesses can take out and repay loans.
Banks remain generally cautious about lending. And their rebound has yet to drive a robust economic recovery from the recession that officially ended three years ago. But the banks’ gains have allowed them to make gradually more loans and keep the economy from slowing further. Bank loans rose at a 2.1 percent annual rate in the first three months of 2012 and at a 4.6 percent rate since then, according to the latest Federal Reserve data.
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