Banks continued to ease lending standards for larger firms in the past three months but small businesses are having a hard time accessing credit, according to the Federal Reserve.

The results from the central bank's quarterly senior loan officer survey released this week suggest the ability of firms to borrow is improving despite recent signs of weakness in the economic recovery.

A number of banks eased loan standards on auto and credit card loans, according to the Federal Reserve. Healthy demand for prime mortgage loans offered further evidence that a nascent housing rebound is beginning to take hold.

Banks are benefiting from new business because of a decrease in lending from European institutions, the survey found. The Fed said banks received the survey on or after July 3, and responses were due by July 17.

The Federal Reserve last week left monetary policy on hold but many analysts still believe it could launch a third round of bond purchases as early as September in an effort to support a still-fragile economy.

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the payments industry

14-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the industry