U.S. business borrowing for equipment rises about 2% in December - ELFA

Jan 24 (Reuters) - U.S. companies’ borrowings for capital investments rose about 2% in December from a year earlier, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) said on Friday.

The companies signed up for $12.9 billion in new loans, leases and lines of credit last month, up from $12.7 billion a year earlier. Borrowings rose 65% from the previous month.

Some ELFA member organizations are seeing slightly elevated levels of stress in their business amid slowing global economic growth, ELFA’s Chief Executive Officer Ralph Petta said.

“Whether recent relaxation of nagging trade tensions between the U.S. and several of its trading partners improves conditions in the industrial and agricultural sectors of the U.S. economy remains to be seen as we move deeper into the new year,” Petta said.

Washington-based ELFA, which reports economic activity for the nearly $1-trillion equipment finance sector, said credit approvals totaled 77.1% in December, up from 75.7% in November.

ELFA’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, CIT Group Inc and the financing affiliates or units of Caterpillar Inc, Dell Technologies Inc, Siemens AG, Canon Inc and Volvo AB.

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Foundation, ELFA’s non-profit affiliate, reported monthly confidence index of 59.9 in January, up from the December index of 56.2, ELFA said.

A reading of above 50 indicates a positive business outlook. (Reporting by Ashwini Raj in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)