* Leasing and finance volume $7.6 bln, down 7 pct from Sept
* Confidence index also lower, reflecting election, fiscal
* Number of borrowers late on payments at record low
By Nick Zieminski
NEW YORK, Nov 26 U.S. companies borrowed
slightly less last month to invest in everything from industrial
equipment to office machines and aircraft, but credit quality
remains healthy, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association
(ELFA) said on Monday.
Companies signed up for $7.6 billion in new loans, leases
and lines of credit in October, down 7 percent from September's
$8.2 billion, but up 27 percent from $6 billion a year earlier,
Business borrowing typically dips sequentially at the start
of the fourth quarter, but often jumps at the end of the year.
The index rose for the 30th consecutive month year-over-year,
pointing to modest growth in demand for loans and in the wider
U.S. economy, ELFA Chief Executive William Sutton said.
"There is still demand for equipment across a wide spectrum
of the economy," Sutton said. "(But) we don't get any signs of
any kind of expansion."
The leasing and finance index measures the volume of
commercial equipment financed in the United States. It precedes
the U.S. Commerce Department's durable goods orders report by a
Trucking and construction are areas of relative weakness,
ELFA said. The group's index does not yet confirm recent signs
of a pick-up in U.S. housing and in non-residential
construction, but it may do so soon, Sutton said.
Separately, ELFA's non-profit affiliate, the Equipment
Leasing & Finance Foundation, said its November confidence index
fell to 49.9, from 53.3 the prior month. That reading is neutral
since 50 marks the dividing line between a positive and negative
The confidence index partly reflected uncertainty ahead of
the Nov. 6 elections and concerns about the looming "fiscal
cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts.
Washington-based ELFA, a trade association with more than
550 members that reports economic activity for the $628 billion
equipment finance sector, said the quality of loan portfolios is
The group said 1.7 percent of borrowers were late by more
than 30 days on their debts, down for the fifth straight month
to a record low. By comparison, about 5 percent of borrowers
were 30 days late during the worst of the 2007-2009 recession.
ELFA's monthly leasing and finance index is based on a
survey of 25 members that include CIT Group Inc, Bank of
America Corp, BB&T and the financing affiliates
or subsidiaries of Caterpillar Inc, Deere & Co,
Dell Inc, Verizon Communications Inc, Siemens AG
, Canon Inc, and Volvo AB.