The Small Business Administration guaranteed $9 billion of general business loans for the year ending Sept. 30, a drop of nearly 5% from the previous 12 months, according to agency data released last week.

Still, administrator Aida M. Alvarez said, the volume of loans backed by SBA's 7(a) program was the second-highest ever. She attributed the dip to the country's good financial health and to increased small-business lending by the private sector.

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