U.S. business borrowing for equipment rises 9% in February - ELFA

March 22 (Reuters) - U.S. companies’ borrowings for capital investments rose about 9% in February from a year earlier, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) said on Monday.

The companies signed up for $7.4 billion in new loans, leases and lines of credit last month, up from $6.8 billion a year earlier. But borrowings in February fell 9% from the previous month.

“As vaccine distribution picks up across the country, labor markets improve and interest rates remain low, the U.S. economy will only improve as we move into Q2,” ELFA Chief Executive Officer Ralph Petta said.

Washington-based ELFA, which reports economic activity for the nearly $1-trillion equipment finance sector, said credit approvals rose to 76.8% in February, from 76.2% in January.

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 67.7 in March, compared with the February reading of 64.4.

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