WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says the U.S. economy is showing “glimmers of hope” despite continuing stresses and signalled more steps to brighten the business climate.

Obama commented to reporters after meeting at the White House with members of his economic team, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, economic adviser Larry Summers and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Obama says there has been a significant uptick in the number of homeowners seeking to refinance their mortgages, which will put money back into their pockets.


And he says a 20 per cent increase last month in the Small Business Administration’s largest program means that small companies, often prized as the backbone of the economy, “are starting to get money.”

But Obama also pointed to the high rate of joblessness — which climbed to a 25-year high of 8.5 per cent in March — and acknowledged that “we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

Obama says he and his advisers discussed the stability of the financial system, the housing market and a program to help banks clear their books of bad assets that have made normal lending difficult if not impossible.

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