(Reuters) – U.S. companies’ borrowing to spend on capital investment rose 1.3 percent in August from a year earlier, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) said.

Companies signed up for $ 7.8 billion in new loans, leases and lines of credit last month, up from $ 7.7 billion a year earlier. However, their borrowing fell 1.3 percent from July.

“Despite Washington lawmakers’ inability — at least, thus far — to agree on necessary changes in tax and financial services policy, U.S. business owners appear optimistic about the health of the economy,” ELFA President and CEO Ralph Petta said.

Washington-based ELFA, a trade association that reports economic activity for the $ 1 trillion equipment finance sector, said credit approvals totaled 75.3 percent in August, down slightly from 76.0 percent in July.

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 typically precedes by a few days.

ELFA’s index is based on a survey of 25 members that include Bank of America Corp (N:), BB&T Corp (N:), CIT Group Inc (N:) and the financing affiliates or subsidiaries of Caterpillar Inc (N:), Deere & Co (N:), Verizon Communications Inc (N:), Siemens AG (DE:), Canon Inc (T:) and Volvo AB (ST:).

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, ELFA’s non-profit affiliate, said its confidence index was 63.7 for September, down from 64.4 in August.

A reading of above 50 indicates a positive outlook.

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