Oct 23 (Reuters) - U.S. companies' borrowing to spend on capital investment fell 7 percent in September from a year earlier, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) said.
Companies signed up for $8.7 billion in new loans, leases and lines of credit last month, down from $9.4 billion a year earlier. However, their borrowing rose 12 percent from August.
"Third quarter new business volume was steady, if not exceptional, despite the string of devastating weather events that plagued parts of the U.S. during the month of September," ELFA Chief Executive Ralph Petta said.
Washington-based ELFA, a trade association that reports economic activity for the $1 trillion equipment finance sector, said credit approvals totaled 74 percent in September, down from 75.3 percent in August.
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 for October was 63.7, unchanged from September.
A reading of above 50 indicates a positive outlook. (Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Supriya Kurane)