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Tightening lending standards (Image: Shutterstock).

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into credit market waters comes fresh data for the bears to sink their teeth into.

The Federal Reserve’s Senior Loan Officers Survey released earlier this week showed banks tightened lending standards over the last three months at the fastest rate since the middle of 2016, according to Citigroup Inc. strategists. They warn of an unhealthy turn for businesses accustomed to easy-money loans, with expansion plans on ice and debt loads becoming harder to service.

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