March 23 (Reuters) - U.S. companies’ borrowing for capital investment rose 13 percent in February from a year earlier, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) said.
Companies signed up for $6.1 billion in new loans, leases and lines of credit last month. Their borrowing fell 9 percent from January.
“February’s new business growth reflects a U.S. economy that seems to be on the verge of a breakout performance...,” ELFA Chief Executive William Sutton said in a statement. “The wild card, of course, is U.S. monetary policy, with the Fed poised to raise interest rates in the not-too-distant future.”
Washington-based ELFA, a trade association that reports economic activity for the $903 billion equipment finance sector, said credit approvals totaled 78.1 percent in February, down slightly from 78.6 percent in January.
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, BB&T Corp, CIT Group Inc and the financing affiliates or subsidiaries 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 confidence index rose to 72.1 in March, the highest level in four years. The index rose from 66.3 in February.
A reading of above 50 indicates a positive outlook. (Reporting by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)