Confidence for the American equipment finance industry has fallen only slightly in March, despite more respondents believing economy will worsen compared to February, as executives’ views become increasingly polarised.

The Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry (MCI-EFI) declined slightly from 72.2 in February to 71.1 in March. 

In March, 10% of respondent believed business conditions would worsen over the next four months, compared to 3.8% in February.

The US equipment finance industry showed increasing polarisation of views, as 70% of executives believed business conditions would improve, up from 69.2%,.

Those expecting conditions to remain the same declined to 20% from 26.9% in February, and those who expected demand for leases to fund capital expenditure to remain the same’ more than halved to 20% from 42.3%.

The majority of respondents, 80%, expected the same access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months in March, down from 84.6% in February. The percentage of respondents expecting more access rose to 16.7% and those expecting less rose to 3.3%.

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Hiring expectations in March were more positive than in February, with 3.3% expecting to hire fewer employees over the next fourth months, compared to 8.7% the month prior.

The majority, 53.3% expected no change in headcount, while 43.3% expected to increase hiring over the next four months, both increases on February’s findings.

All of those surveyed evaluated the US economy as ‘fair’, with a decrease in the number expecting economic conditions to improve over the next six months to 60% from 73.1% in February.

Fewer executives expected their company to increase spending on business development activities during the next six months than in February, with 50% expressing this view, down from 65.4% the month before.

Thomas Partridge, president, Fifth Third Equipment Finance said: “While there appears to be optimism with our client base, many are waiting for a clearer picture with potential tax changes before making sizeable capital investment decisions.”