US new business volume was down 11% year-on-year in March at $8.1bn (7.2bn), according to the monthly index of the US Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA).
New business volume increased by 33% compared to February. Year to date, cumulative new business volume decreased 9% compared to the same period in 2015.
Late payments over 30 days stood at 1.2%, while write-offs were 0.5%, up from 0.37% the previous month.
Credit approvals totalled 77.7% in March, down from 79.2% in February. Total headcount for equipment finance companies was up 1.4% year-on-year.
Separately, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s Monthly Confidence Index (MCI-EFI) for April was 59.1, an increase from the March index of 51.6.
ELFA president and chief executive officer Ralph Petta said: "Despite showing a relatively healthy increase over February originations, March new business volume continued its decelerating trajectory when compared to the same period in the prior year. Headwinds continue to tamp down a pattern of consistent growth within the equipment finance sector, as U.S. businesses are uncertain about the outlook for strong and consistent growth in the U.S. economy. Credit quality appears mixed. While the monthly delinquency data is promising, the sharp increase in losses bears careful monitoring in the months ahead."
Tony Golobic, chairman and chief executive officer, GreatAmerica Financial Services, said: "For much of the past 12 months, GreatAmerica Financial Services has experienced a moderate increase in overall commercial equipment finance volume, which grew by 13.5 percent over the same period of last year. However, our March growth slowed to 5.6 percent over March of 2015.
"Our new business backlog is pointing to continued growth for the foreseeable future. Uncertainty about the Fed’s thinking about interest rates, the election, and the Great Recession resonates with many. These factors are resulting in some reluctance to invest in new equipment. There is ample supply of capital and we’re seeing increased credit appetites by some in our industry. While we have seen a modest uptick in our own delinquency and charge-offs, our portfolio credit quality continues to be strong."