Equipment Lease Index Gains in March

Strong leasing could point to economic growth or just reflect replacement of old equipment.

An index of equipment leasing posted a solid gain in March, but it’s not clear whether that shows that companies are starting to grow or that they’re replacing old equipment.

The leasing and finance index compiled by the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA), which shows the volume of commercial equipment financed in the U.S. by 25 lease financing companies, jumped 36% in March from February, and was up 10% vs. March 2011. For the first quarter, new business volume was up 17% from the first quarter of 2010.

McQueen notes those trends have continued into 2012, with Wells experiencing “11.5% year-over-year volume growth, a 17% backlog increase, strong transactional spreads, and continued portfolio quality improvement.”

Petta says that the index covers equipment lease financing across a wide range of industries, and that so far evidence of business growth and expansion is limited to specific pockets, such as construction companies and companies engaged in transporting commodities.

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