(Reuters) - Borrowing by U.S. companies to spend on capital investment declined 12 percent in April from a year earlier, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) said.
Companies signed up for $7.3 billion in new loans, leases and lines of credit last month, down 10 percent from March, said ELFA, a Washington-based trade group that reports economic activity for the $1 trillion equipment finance sector.
Cumulative new business volume decreased 10 percent from January to April, compared with the same period a year earlier, ELFA said.
"... It appears that political uncertainty joins economic uncertainty as one of the reasons businesses are holding off investing in capital equipment at this time," ELFA Chief Executive Ralph Petta said in a statement.
Credit approvals totaled 78.2 percent in April, up from 77.7 percent in March, ELFA said.
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 precedes by a few days.
The 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 and Volvo AB.
The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, ELFA's non-profit affiliate, said its confidence index is 55.1 for May, down from April's index of 59.1.
A reading of above 50 indicates a positive outlook.
Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel