According to a new survey carried out by the European Central Bank, small companies in the euro zone feel they have access to more credit than they need for the first time since 2009.

Small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) form the backbone of the euro zone’s economy and mainly rely on bank lending, which the ECB is trying to revive through a large scale asset-purchase programme and low interest rates. The bank is expected to ease its policy further on Thursday.

The survey of 11,226 enterprises, the vast majority of which have fewer than 250 employees, showed more companies reported an increase in the availability of bank loans and overdrafts beyond what they needed in the first half of 2015.

Only 11 per cent of firms said access to finance was their chief problem. Most others chose regulation, competition, cost of production and availability of skilled labour.

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