March 22 (Reuters) - U.S. companies' borrowing to spend on capital investments fell 24 percent in February from a year earlier, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) said on Friday.
Companies signed up for $5.9 billion in new loans, leases and lines of credit last month, down from $7.7 billion a year ago. The fall was 18 percent, when compared to the previous month.
"Monthly new business volume declined for the first time in almost two years... Fundamentals in the U.S. economy appear to be holding up," ELFA Chief Executive Officer Ralph Petta said in a statement.
"With the Fed holding interest rates unchanged, these and other economic data bear monitoring in the coming months to better understand the dip in equipment financing volume for February."
Washington-based ELFA, a trade association that reports economic activity for the $1 trillion equipment finance sector, said credit approvals totaled 76 percent in February, marginally down from 76.1 percent in the previous month.
The data on U.S. business borrowing was based on a survey among 25 members including Bank of America Corp, BB&T Corp, CIT Group Inc and the financing affiliates 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 for March is 60.4, up from 56.7 in February. Any reading above 50 indicates a positive outlook. (Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel)