FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Euro zone banks expect to ease lending standards for companies in the fourth quarter on the back of improved funding conditions, the European Central Bank said.
The European Central Bank said on Wednesday its latest quarterly Bank Lending Survey pointed to an easing in lending rules to companies in the October-December period.
"Looking ahead to the fourth quarter of 2013, euro area banks expected in net terms an easing of credit standards on loans to enterprises, which is the first such expectation on record since the fourth quarter of 2009," the ECB said.
The ECB said that a net 5 percent of the euro zone banks that took part in the survey tightened their criteria for firms to borrow in the third quarter, less than the 7 percent in the second quarter.
The tightening came even though banks, which are facing tougher capital requirements under new regulations for the sector, said their access to funding eased.
"Banks continued to report in net terms an improvement across all funding categories," the ECB said.(Reporting by Eva Taylor and Paul Carrel)