U.S. business borrowing for equipment falls 10% in March: ELFA

(Reuters) - U.S. companies’ borrowing to spend on capital investments fell 10 percent in March from a year earlier, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) said on Tuesday.

Companies signed up for $8.2 billion in new loans, leases and lines of credit last month, down from $9.1 billion a year earlier.

Borrowings jumped 39 percent in March from the previous month.

“First quarter new business volume got off to a slow start, relative to Q1 last year. This was not unexpected...,” ELFA Chief Executive Officer Ralph Petta said, adding that the overall U.S. economy continued to perform reasonably well.

“Headwinds to this benign scenario include a softening in global economies and continued international trade frictions, particularly with China and Europe,” Petta said.

Washington-based ELFA, which reports economic activity for the $1 trillion equipment finance sector, said credit approvals totaled 75.3 percent, down from 76.0 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.

The index is based on a survey of 25 members that include Bank of America Corp, BB&T Corp, CIT Group Inc and the financing affiliates or units of Caterpillar Inc, Deere & Co, Verizon Communications Inc, Siemens AG, Canon Inc and Volvo AB.

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, ELFA’s non-profit affiliate, said its monthly confidence index in April is 58.3, down from 60.4 in March.

A reading of above 50 indicates a positive outlook.

Reporting by Divya R in Bengaluru