Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said Wednesday that improving economic conditions should help increase credit for businesses.

"Banks are very interested in lending," though small firms may find it harder than larger ones to get credit, he said in response to audience questions at an event in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Lockhart is a voting member of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee. In his formal remarks, he said the nation is embarking on a slow recovery from recession, amid a lengthy process of healing for employment and challenging policy questions for central bankers.

"Evidence is mounting that the worst of the economic downturn is behind us," he said, adding that, though the economy is "fragile," it appears "stabilization has taken hold and the beginning stages of recovery are under way."

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