NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Small business owners borrowed more in October, a sign that they might be getting more confident about hiring. Lending to small companies rose 11 percent from September's level, according to a survey released Monday by PayNet, which provides credit ratings on small businesses. Small business lending has been erratic recently, dropping in September after increasing in July and August. The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending index, which is based on new commercial loans and leases granted to small businesses, rose to 107.5 from a revised 96.4. Owners have been very cautious about borrowing because of uncertainty about the economy. But recent reports have shown that small companies are hiring slowly. And positive news came from the government last week: The economy grew at a better-than-expected 2.7 percent annual rate during the third quarter. That may encourage owners to hire, although many may be waiting to see what action Congress will take on taxes and budget cuts for 2013. And small businesses in the Northeast are contending with billions of dollars in damage from Hurricane Sandy, which may make them uneasy about expanding in the next few months. Several reports this week will show whether businesses stepped up their hiring during November. Among them: the Labor Department's monthly employment report on Friday.