Commercial borrowing by Canadian companies hit the highest level in the third quarter since early 2009, according to PayNet, suggesting businesses played an outsized role in supporting the economy as growth cooled, Reuters reported.

PayNet, which tracks commercial financing to millions of North American small and medium-sized businesses, said its Canadian Business Lending Index rose 5% from the second quarter and 20% year-over-year.

The index rose to a reading of 172, its highest level since the first quarter of 2009. PayNet said its Canadian index is rising twice as fast as the corresponding U.S. index. The index marked an eighth consecutive quarter of growth since bottoming in 2010 and the fifth straight double-digit advance on a year-over-year basis.

The commercial lending sector includes independent finance companies, big banks and non-bank players such as machinery makers, whose loans and leases to customers are secured against the equipment sold.

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