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Investments in equipment and software are expected to grow 6 percent in 2015, driven by a steadily improving economy, according to the "Annual 2015 Equipment Leasing & Finance U.S. Economic Outlook" report released yesterday by the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation (ELFA).The outlook is mixed for 12 individual equipment and software markets tracked in the report, which focuses on the $903 billion equipment leasing and finance industry. To be updated quarterly throughout 2015, the report forecasts equipment investment and capital spending in the United States, and evaluates the effects of various industry and external factors likely to affect growth over the next 12 months.Railroad equipment investments "should moderate" over the next three to six months, while truck investments are expected to change little in that timespan, the report states. Investments in mining and oilfield machinery will likely slow or potentially slip over the next three to six months — given recent declines in oil prices — and construction machinery investments likely will moderate. "Equipment investment has been relatively modest in recent years, but picked up in 2014 and now seems poised to maintain this momentum into 2015," said ELFA Chief Executive Officer William Sutton in a press release. "Overall, these trends portend a positive result for the equipment finance industry and U.S. economy."The "wild cards" that could hinder investment growth include potential political gridlock, global economic weakness and geopolitical risks, ELFA officials said. The latest available data shows equipment and software investments increased 9.3 percent in the third quarter after climbing 9.6 percent in the second quarter.