(Corrects paragraph 8 to "up from March's index of 51.6" from "down from March's index of 79.2")
April 22 (Reuters) - Borrowing by U.S. companies to spend on capital investment declined 11 percent in March from a year earlier, trade association Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) said.
Companies signed up for $8.1 billion in new loans, leases and lines of credit last month, up 33 percent from February, said ELFA, a Washington-based trade association that reports economic activity for the $1 trillion equipment finance sector.
Cumulative new business volume decreased 9 percent compared with 2015, ELFA said.
"Headwinds continue to tamp down a pattern of consistent growth within the equipment finance sector, as U.S. businesses are uncertain about the outlook for strong and consistent growth in the U.S. economy," ELFA Chief Executive Ralph Petta said in a statement.
Credit approvals totaled 77.7 percent in March, down from 79.2 percent in February, said ELFA.
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 precedes by a few days.
The index is based on a survey of 25 members that include Bank of America Corp, BB&T Corp, CIT Group Inc and the financing affiliates or units of Caterpillar Inc , Deere & Co, Verizon Communications Inc, Siemens AG and Volvo AB.
The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, ELFA's non-profit affiliate, said its confidence index is 59.1 for April, up from March's index of 51.6.
A reading of above 50 indicates a positive outlook.
(Reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru)