The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association's Monthly Leasing and Finance Index, which reports economic activity from 25 companies representing a cross section of the $725 billion equipment finance sector, showed their overall new business volume for December was $11.5 billion, up 6% from volume of $10.8 billion in the same period in 2011.

In a typical end-of-year spike, their volume was up 80% from the previous month's volume of $6.4 billion. Cumulative new business volume for 2012 rose 14% over 2011.

Receivables over 30 days decreased to their lowest level in the last two years at 1.6%, down from 2% in November, and they were down from 2.1% in the same period in 2011. Charge-offs were up from the previous month at 0.6%, and down by 14.3% compared to the same period last year.

Credit approvals totaled 78.5% in December, up from 77% in November. Seventy-two percent of participating organizations reported submitting more transactions for approval during December, up from 46% the previous month.

Finally, total headcount for equipment finance companies was down 0.2% from the previous month, and declined 2.7% year over year. Supplemental data shows that small and medium-sized enterprise customers led the underperforming sectors, followed by trucking.