(REUTERS) -- The weak economic recovery has made it harder for banks to make money from loans but the financial conditions of smaller institutions appears to be solidifying, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Thursday.

Despite some recent signs of improvement, the recovery has been frustratingly slow, constraining opportunities for profitable lending, Bernanke told a banking conference.

Despite high ratios of nonperforming assets, asset quality appears to be stabilizing and provisions for loan losses at community banks appear to be decreasing, Bernanke said. Capital ratios seem to be improving, he added.

The Fed chairman did not extensively discuss the outlook for the economy or monetary policy in his speech.

(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by James Dalgleish)