NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Small business lending is showing small signs of growth, according to data compiled by the government. The total amount of small business loans outstanding at the end of the fourth quarter came to $586 billion, up from $584 billion in the third quarter, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That was the first quarterly gain in small business lending since the FDIC began tracking loans on a quarterly basis at the start of 2010. The FDIC is a government agency that insures bank deposits and oversees financial companies. Despite the year-end improvement, the lending environment for small business remains weak. The December number was down from $598 billion in the final quarter of 2011 and $626 billion at the end of 2010.