The Commercial Finance Association Education Foundation released its inaugural Secured Lending Confidence Index (SLCI).

The index reflects prevailing business conditions and is a broad-based leading indicator of vitality in the U.S. middle market. It surveys leaders of commercial finance companies which provide secured loans used to finance ongoing operations, expansion and recapitalization of mid-market companies.

The SLCI measures five dimensions of anticipated activity over the coming three months, including overall business conditions, portfolio performance, demand for new business, client utilization and hiring expectations. Respondents indicated the most optimism for new business demand, followed by business conditions overall, both positive indicators for the U.S. economy.

“These outcomes demonstrate that demand for capital to finance operations is strong,” said CFA Education Foundation Executive Director Greg Slowik. “Both currently and looking down the road.”

Jennifer Palmer, president of Gerber Finance, a CFA member organization, said, “It strikes me that the results of the five questions indicate that the market is expected to improve and lenders have strong favorable views about their respective institution’s role in the increased demand for lending opportunities. Insight into lenders’ outlook on the market like this is always helpful in our strategizing and budgeting.”

The SLCI will be conducted quarterly.