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Federal Reserve headquarters

The Federal Reserve Building on Constitution Avenue in Washington.  (2009 file photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

WASHINGTON •  U.S. banks tightened standards on commercial real estate loans and on credit card borrowing during the first quarter, according to a survey of bank officers published on Monday.

The U.S. Federal Reserve's quarterly survey of senior loan officers also showed banks were taking steps to curb potential losses from loans to firms that are exposed to the risks of economic trouble in Asia and Europe, the Fed said.

Europe and China are major U.S. trading partners and the economies of both have recently appeared to soften.

"A moderate net fraction of banks reported that they expect the quality of loans to exposed firms to deteriorate," the Fed said.

The report appeared to show some rising concerns over the economic outlook despite the many signs of a strong U.S. labor market and healthy economic growth.

"A significant net share of banks reported weaker demand for construction and land development loans," according to the report.

Still, banks kept standards for auto loans and for commercial and industrial lending "basically unchanged" during the period although terms eased for some commercial and industrial loans, according to the Fed survey.  

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