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updated: 4/26/2013 7:15 AM

ECB: lending to companies remains weak

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Associated Press

FRANKFURT, Germany -- The European Central Bank says bank lending to companies remains weak -- another sign that the economy in the 17 countries that use the euro is still stuck in recession.

Loans to companies shrank 2.4 percent in March from the same month a year ago, only slightly better than the drop of 2.5 percent the month before.

The ECB says its current low interest rates are not getting through to companies in the form of credit that would enable them to expand their businesses. That's because of troubles in the banking system in some parts of the eurozone.

Many economists think the ECB will cut its refinancing rate from a record low of 0.75 percent at next week's meeting to provide more stimulus.

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