NEW YORK - Commercial mortgage lending picked up in the second quarter after two lackluster quarters, though it was still 25% lower than the year-earlier period, a survey concludes.

The survey by the American Council of Life Insurance found that mortgage loan commitments were $5.48 billion in the period, up 48% from the first quarter. Commitments in the first half were $9.2 billion, down from $12.4 billion in the first six months of 1999.

The group polled 29 U.S. life insurance companies, a dominant real estate lending group.

One of the main reasons for the drop, analysts say, is that most commercial mortgages are 10-year loans, and lending slipped dramatically during the recession in the early 1990s from the peak in the late 1980s. Therefore, not many borrowers need to refinance loans right now.

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