January leasing & finance confidence index shows slow, upward trend

January leasing & finance confidence index shows slow, upward trend

At a rating of 48.6, this month's index is the highest we've seen since September.

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation (ELFF) released its January Monthly Confidence Index (MCI-EFI), closing out the month with a rating of 48.6. Not only is that up more than four points over December’s rating, but it is above the level of November and October, as well. The MCI-EFI rating gives an estimation of the trending optimism or pessimism for the $1 trillion equipment finance industry.

ELFF also shared results from its January survey, which largely show that respondents expect business conditions to stay stable over the next four months, though a positive outlook is growing. Up from 3.7% in December, 20.7% of the responding executives believe business conditions will improve, while 62.1% expect conditions to remain the same, and 17.2% believe they will worsen.

The numerical survey results are very similar for the areas of lease and loan demand, capital access for equipment acquisitions, and spending for business development. Respondent optimism in January is growing to counter negative outlooks, but overall the belief is that conditions will stay stagnant in the coming months.

The only major difference from that trend is when discussing hiring. In a big drop from December’s 18.5%, only 6.9% of executives plan to hire more employees over the next four months. 79.3% expect no change in headcount, and 13.8% expect to hire fewer employees.

None of the leadership evaluate the current U.S. economy as “excellent,” though 93.1% of the leadership evaluate the current U.S. economy as “fair.” Additionally, 13.8% say economic conditions will improve in the next six months—more than 10 percentage points higher than what respondents felt in December.

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