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Survey: small biz owners cautious in the summer

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NEW YORK (AP) -- A survey of small business owners shows they remained cautious during the summer about borrowing money.

The survey released Thursday by researchers at Pepperdine University and Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. shows that demand for financing was little changed in the third quarter from the first three months of the year, when researchers made their last survey. The number of businesses that had recently tried to get financing was unchanged at 32 percent.

Sixty-three percent of small businesses said tight credit conditions were restricting their growth, compared with 64 percent in the first quarter. And 53 percent said tight credit was affecting their ability to hire -- down from 55 percent early in the year.

Seventy-six percent of the small businesses surveyed said it was difficult to get a loan, virtually unchanged from the 77 percent who called loans hard to get in the first quarter.

The survey confirms other reports that showed small businesses have been reluctant to borrow to hire or expand. Owners have been uneasy because the economy has been weak, and because they were uncertain about the political climate while they waited for the results of the presidential election. More recent surveys have shown they're also anxious about the negotiations in Congress about avoiding the fiscal cliff -- the combination of tax increases and budget cuts scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1.

More than 3,400 companies in Dun & Bradstreet Credibility's database took part in the survey. The company supplies credit ratings on small businesses.

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