The UK asset finance markets rose by 34% in December 2013 to £2.2bn (2.86bn), led by a resurgent commercial vehicle sector which posted one of its strongest ever rises, according to data from the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA).
December’s new business was nearly 10% of the total for 2013 which came in at £22.3bn when large ticket items were included and £21.7bn without.
Part of the driving force for the rising numbers in commercial vehicles was the introduction of the Euro 6 regulation for trucks, which has prompted many freight fleets to upgrade to compliant vehicles. For the full year the commercial vehicle market rose to £5.2bn in new finance written, an increase of 8% on the previous year.
Other sectors performed strongly too, however. In a positive sign for the UK economy, new plant finance increased 25% in December and 4% in the year. This equated to £385m and £4.47bn respectively.
IT equipment’s strong growth during 2013 continued into December, with a jump of over 28% on the December 2012 to £257m. Total year figures were the also the healthiest of any sector, up 14% year-on-year to £1.54bn.
Geraldine Kelly, head of research and chief economist at the FLA said: "The asset finance market reported its highest level of new business for three years in December, suggesting the long-awaited recovery in business investment may well have begun.
"The recovery in the UK economy so far has been driven by the services sector and supported by almost £15 billion of asset finance provided to businesses in that sector last year."