After a full year of improvement, small business credit conditions took a step backwards in early 2014.
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According to the Q1 Experian/Moody’s Analytics Small Business Credit Index, amid harsh winter weather, delinquency rates rose slightly in the beginning of the year. Additionally, credit balances dropped during the first quarter, falling 1.2% from the fourth quarter of 2013.
The experts at Experian and Moody’s aren’t too worried about the setbacks, though.
“The improvement in small-business credit conditions paused early this year. However, this should prove temporary, as the broader economy revives from the severe winter weather,” said Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics, in a statement released Tuesday. “All the preconditions for stronger credit growth and fewer credit problems are in place, including sturdy profits and cash flow, record-low interest rates and low debt service burdens.”
Experian’s senior business consultant Joel Pruis agrees with Zandi’s take on the overall outlook.
“[A]s we move further away from the cold, wintry season, we should expect to see the growth rate for credit balances normalize as consumer spending picks up and small businesses feel more comfortable making credit-based purchases,” said Pruis.
Another positive sign is that the most significant rise in delinquencies was in the 60- to 90-day range. This shows that small businesses have only experienced difficulties paying down their balances in recent months, as the report’s authors say larger issues would have led to increases beyond the 90-day range.
Speaking further with FOXBusiness.com, Pruis said there’s still reason for optimism on Main St.
“What we’ve seen from the report that Moody’s is predicting for economic activity, we are expecting to see things stabilize in the coming quarters … and to keep this in perspective, delinquency increased from 9.6% to just under 9.8%. It’s a slight uptick, and it doesn’t come anywhere close to last year’s rate,” said Pruis. Last year, delinquency was nearly a full point higher, around 10.6%.
Experian and Moody’s release the Small Business Credit Index on a quarterly basis.