Consumer Credit in U.S. Rose Least in Three Months in December
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. consumer debt rose in December by the least
in three months as credit card spending and other borrowing
softened, indicating consumption is slightly less robust though
Total credit rose $16.6 billion from the prior month, slightly
below the median estimate of economists, following an upwardly
revised $22.4 billion gain in November, Federal Reserve figures
showed Thursday. Credit-card debt outstanding and non-revolving
credit both rose the least since September.
- This credit report may carry more weight than usual for analysts and investors as the release of the December retail sales report was delayed by the government shutdown.
- While weaker than expected, the data still point to a confident consumer, buoyed by tax cuts and a solid labor market that recently added the most jobs in nearly a year. The report suggests consumers likely helped keep the economy humming in the fourth quarter, though analysts expect consumption to cool in 2019.
- Revolving credit outstanding, which includes credit card debt, increased $1.7 billion after a $4.8 billion rise. The data show Americans borrowed more cautiously during the holiday season.
- Non-revolving debt outstanding climbed $14.8 billion after a $17.6 billion gain. Such debt includes loans for school and automobiles.
- Lending by the federal government, which is mainly for student loans, rose by $5.2 billion before seasonal adjustment.
- Credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5 percent, after 6.8 percent in the prior month.
- The consumer credit report doesn’t track debt secured by real estate, such as home equity lines of credit and home mortgages.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.