U.S. business borrowing for equipment rises 7% in April- ELFA

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May 23 (Reuters) - U.S. companies borrowed 7% more in April to finance their investments in equipment compared to a year earlier, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) said on Monday, as firms ramp up production to meet demand.

The companies signed up for $10.5 billion in new loans, leases and lines of credit, compared with $9.3 billion a year earlier.

"Soaring energy prices and inflation are headwinds confronting the industry as we move into the summer months," said Ralph Petta, ELFA's chief executive officer, in a statement.

ELFA, which reports economic activity for the nearly $1-trillion equipment finance sector, said credit approvals totaled 77.4%, down from 78.3% in March.

Washington-based 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, and 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, said its confidence index for May was at 49.6, down from 56.1 in April. A reading above 50 indicates a positive business outlook. (Reporting by Nathan Gomes in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)