WASHINGTON — Although overall lending was a bright spot in the Federal Reserve Board's report on economic activity released Wednesday, some bankers surveyed said excessive regulation is crimping commercial lending.

The agency's "Beige Book" noted that overall demand for loans jumped in the New York, Richmond, Atlanta and Dallas districts while it remained stable in Kansas City.

Some regions also saw an increase in commercial loan demand, including New York and Richmond. But lenders in Richmond suggested regulatory burdens were holding them back.

"Lenders in North Carolina and Virginia reported greater demand and growing pipelines for commercial loans, but added that regulations and excessive paperwork were delaying loan closings," the report said.

The situation was worse in the Philadelphia region, where bankers said an improving economy was not being adequately reflected in business loan portfolios.

"This situation was attributed to mounting competition from nonbank lenders and the regulatory environment," the Fed said.

Still, the Philadelphia Fed said the pipeline for M&A financing was "strong" and that commercial real estate lending was growing at a faster rate than commercial and industrial lending.

Several districts also reported improved consumer loan demand. Loan volume increased at a "modest to moderate pace" in Philadelphia, Cleveland and St. Louis, while mortgage lending grew steadily in Chicago, Kansas City and San Francisco.

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