Increasing demands for new loans at higher interest rates could signal that small businesses are securing inventory and expanding, said Dave Ellison, a portfolio manager at Hennessy Funds.
“It seems like everybody else has benefited from the economy reopening but the banks because you’ve seen very little loan growth” on account of the Paycheck Protection Program, Ellison said. “The pandemic has disproportionably hurt small businesses, and those are the customers of regional banks,” he said.
Overall, commercial loan growth fell 12% in September from a year earlier after bottoming out with a 16.3%% decline in annual loan growth in May, according to data from the Federal Reserve and Oppenheimer. Yet rising inventories at auto suppliers and retailers should bolster loan growth in the year ahead, said Chris Kotowski, an analyst at Oppenheimer.