The Federal Reserve has bought US$12 million so far in loans through its Main Street Lending Program, the central bank disclosed Thursday in its weekly reserve balance report.

Although the program was fully launched July 6, the Fed only started buying loans on Wednesday, so the disclosure captures just one day of purchases. Banks that make eligible loans to small- and mid-size businesses are able to sell 95 per cent of each loan to the Fed. Loans can range in size from US$250,000 to US$300 million for an expansion of existing credit.

Lenders and borrowers alike have raised questions about takeup in the program, citing the complexity of the loan terms. Fed officials have said low use of the program may be a sign that companies are able to access the capital they need, rather than flag a shortcoming of the facility.