U.S. business borrowing for equipment falls 4% in February - ELFA

March 22 (Reuters) - U.S. companies borrowed 4% less in February to finance their investments in equipment compared to a year earlier, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) said on Tuesday.

The companies signed up for $7.1 billion in new loans, leases and lines of credit last month, compared with $7.4 billion a year earlier. Borrowings were down nearly 1% from January.

“Geopolitical unrest, increasing interest rates, inflation and continuing supply disruptions all pose headwinds that bear monitoring. But, equipment finance companies always find ways to stay relevant,” Ralph Petta, ELFA’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

ELFA, which reports economic activity for the nearly $1-trillion equipment finance sector, said credit approvals totaled 78.2%, down from 78.4% in January.

The Washington-based body’s leasing and finance index measures the volume of commercial equipment financed in the United States.

The index is based on a survey of 25 members, including Bank of America Corp, and financing affiliates or units of Caterpillar Inc, Dell Technologies Inc, Siemens AG, Canon Inc and Volvo AB.

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, ELFA’s non-profit affiliate, said its confidence index in March is 58.2%, a decrease from 61.8% in February. A reading above 50 indicates a positive business outlook. (Reporting by Nathan Gomes in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)