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Johannesburg - An index that shows the debt stress of businesses was launched in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Experian SA and Econometrix said.

The Experian Business Debt Index (BDI) is an indicator of the overall health of businesses and the economy, they said in a joint statement.

It measures the relative ability for businesses to pay outstanding creditors on time and tracks macro-economic indicators that can affect the ability of companies to pay their creditors.

The Experian BDI would be published quarterly.

The BDI for the fourth quarter of 2013 showed that debt stress among businesses continued to fall, but not at a rapid pace.

The rate of improvement in business stress remained more or less constant compared with the third quarter of 2013.

“The financial health of businesses seems to be much more stable,” Experian SA managing director Michelle Beetar said.

“This is reflected in the continuing decline in the average number of debtors' days. The debt age ratio has also been declining significantly.” - Sapa