Asset finance (primarily leasing and hire purchase) in the UK grew in May by 16% compared with the same month last year.

The plant and machinery finance and business equipment finance sectors reported new business up in May by 28% and 31% respectively, compared with the same month in 2016, while new finance for commercial vehicles was up by 3% over the same period.

Geraldine Kilkelly, head of research and chief economist at the FLA, said: “Asset finance new business grew by 9% in the first five months of 2017, as the industry continued to help businesses invest.

“The growth in plant and machinery finance new business so far in 2017 has been broad-based, with increases in new finance provided for construction equipment, agricultural equipment, forklift trucks, and production and process plant over that period.”

Vehicle finance new business volumes are also stable so far in 2017, but fell during May.

The new business in the point of sale (POS) consumer new car finance market fell 1% by value and 13% by volume in May, compared with the same month in 2016.

This is in line with the fall in private new car sales over the same period, in part caused by tax changes that prompted many buyers to bring forward purchases to earlier in the year.

Kilkelly said: “Growth in the consumer car finance market has moderated in the first five months of 2017, with overall new business volumes flat compared with the same period last year.

“This is in contrast with average new business growth of 13% annually over the last five years.”

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