WASHINGTON — Small-business loans resulting from a government program aimed at boosting commercial credit grew by 20% — or $1.5 billion — in the fourth quarter compared with the previous quarter, according to a Treasury Department report due to be released Wednesday.

In its regular report to Congress on the progress of the Small Business Lending Fund, the Treasury said small-business loans by participating institutions are $8.9 billion higher at the end of 2012 than "baseline levels" since the program launched in mid-2011. (Loan volume is compared against what their average balances were over a previous four-quarter period starting in mid-2009.)

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