(Reuters) - U.S. companies' borrowing to spend on capital investment rose in March, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) said.
Companies signed up for $7 billion in new loans, leases and lines of credit last month, up 3 percent from a year earlier. Their borrowing rose 30 percent from February.
"The Federal Reserve recently hinted at continuing a monetary policy that will promote a sustained low interest rate environment, which is giving the business community a reason to feel confident about the overall trajectory of the U.S. economy," ELFA Chief Executive William Sutton said in a statement.
Washington-based ELFA, a trade association that reports economic activity for the $827 billion equipment finance sector, said credit approvals totaled 77.8 percent in March, up from 75.3 percent in February.
ELFA's leasing and finance index measures the volume of commercial equipment financed in the United States. It is designed to complement the U.S. Commerce Department's durable goods orders report, which it typically precedes by a few days.
ELFA's index is based on a survey of 25 members that include Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), BB&T Corp (BBT.N), CIT Group Inc (CIT.N) and the financing affiliates or subsidiaries of Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N), Deere & Co (DE.N), Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE), Canon Inc (7751.T) and Volvo AB (VOLVb.ST).
The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, ELFA's non-profit affiliate, said its confidence index was 65.1 percent for April, remaining at the highest index level in two years for the second consecutive month.
A reading of above 50 indicates a positive outlook.
Reporting by Abinaya Vijayaragahvan in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza