Jan 24 (Reuters) - U.S. companies' borrowing to spend on capital investment rose about 6 percent in December from a year earlier, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) said.
Companies signed up for $12.8 billion in new loans, leases and lines of credit last month, up from $12.1 billion a year earlier.
"December new business volume registered the typical end-of-quarter, end-of-year spike as member companies scrambled to close out the year," ELFA Chief Executive Ralph Petta said.
"While 2017 was a good year, overall, for the equipment finance industry, most industry observers look for even stronger business activity in 2018."
Washington-based ELFA, a trade association that reports economic activity for the $1 trillion equipment finance sector, said credit approvals totaled 77.6 percent in December, up from 73.6 percent in November.
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 units 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 January was at an all-time high of 75.3, up from 69.4 in December.
A reading of above 50 indicates a positive outlook. (Reporting by Pranav Kiran in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)