New business asset finance grew by 9% in Q1 2017, according to the latest figures released by the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA).

Leasing and Hire Purchases led the way with a 5% increase in March being recorded by the FLA, and a bigger increase of 14% for deals up to £20 million saw asset finance at its strongest rate of growth since August 2016.

Plant and machinery and commercial vehicle finance sectors were also up by 18% and 12% respectively when compared with the same period in 2016.

Speaking on the figures, Head of Research and Chief Economist at the FLA, Geraldine Kelly, said: “The strong growth in asset finance new business in the first quarter of 2017 was above expectations, and reflects the improved outlook for business investment reported by the Bank of England in its May 2017 Inflation Report.

“In the first quarter, the agricultural and construction equipment finance sectors were particularly strong, with new business growth of 43% and 23% respectively, compared with Q1 2016.”