Banks cranked out $151.5 billion of unsecured small-business loans during the 12 months ended in June, up 7.3% from the year-earlier period, according to a research firm's analysis of Federal Reserve call reports.

Warren G. Heller, research director at Veribanc Inc., said the increase indicated - contrary to some Fed studies - that banking consolidation did not mean small businesses would have trouble obtaining credit. He described the rise in loans as "routine" growth in business lending.

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