Asset finance new business increased by 2% in April compared to the same month last year to £2.59bn (€3.3bn), according to the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA).

Plant and machinery finance decreased by 5% year-on-year to £579m in April, while finance for IT equipment grew by 1% to £138m.

Car finance new business volume was stable at £897m. Commercial vehicle finance recorded a 3% year-on-year growth, with volumes reaching £609m.

The aircraft, ships and rolling stock finance sector saw an increase of 51% compared to April 2015, reaching £60m.

A positive year-on-year trend on new business was also observed in business equipment finance, which rose by 5% to £197m.

In the first four months of 2016, overall new business volume was 6% higher than in the same period in 2015.

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Commenting on the figures, Geraldine Kilkelly, head of research and chief economist at the FLA, said: "The asset finance market reported its thirty-first consecutive month of new business growth in April, with a particularly strong performance by the broker channel. The solid performance by the industry so far in 2016 meant that that the percentage of UK investment in machinery, equipment and purchased software funded by it increased to 31.8% in the twelve months to March 2016."

By channel and product

Direct finance, which accounted for more than half of total finance volume, grew by 3% to £1.39bn. Broker introduced finance volumes increased by 18% to £457m, while sales finance volumes were stable at £747m.

Lease/hire purchase, by far the most popular product in asset finance, dropped by 4% to £1.39bn. Finance leasing rose by 32% to be worth £289m, and operating leasing increased by 16% to £605m.