File - FedEx Packages move on a conveyor belt at the FedEx hub at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Monday, Dec. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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U.S. bankers optimistic as businesses seek loansLoans to businesses have risen to a record high and bank executives say they are increasingly optimistic about the U.S. economy. Outstanding loans to companies reached an all-time high of $1.61 trillion at the end of last year, topping a record set in late 2008, according to Federal Reserve data released Friday.Job growth slowed sharply in December, when U.S. employers hired the fewest workers in nearly three years, partly because of winter storms.But the U.S. grew at a relatively fast annualized 4.1 percent in the third quarter, and General Electric – often looked to as a barometer of the health of the U.S. industrial sector – said Friday that it had record orders for jet engines, oil pumps and other industrial goods. Paul Kasriel, former chief economist at Northern Trust Co, notes that total bank investments in loans and securities, combined with the Federal Reserve's securities holdings, have been growing at an accelerating pace since the fourth quarter of 2012, soon after the Fed started its latest round of bond buying to stimulate the economy.
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