Consumer borrowing sees big climb


Published: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 8, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

WASHINGTON — Consumer borrowing rebounded sharply in November, rising at the fastest clip since August.

The Federal Reserve said Monday that borrowing rose at an annual rate of 6.2 percent in November, the biggest increase since a 6.8 percent rise in August. Borrowing had fallen at a 0.6 percent rate in October, which had been the biggest one-month decline in 14 years.

Economists had expected a rebound in November, given that retail sales were strong during the month, but the amount of the increase was more than double what had been forecast. The strength in November came from an 11.9 percent jump in the category that includes credit card debt. That was the fastest jump in the revolving debt category since last May and was far above the 4.2 percent rate of increase in October.

The category of nonrevolving debt, which covers auto loans, rose at a 3 percent rate in November.

after having fallen at a 3.4 percent pace in October.

All of the changes pushed consumer credit, which does not include home mortgages, up by $12.3 billion to a record high of $2.39 trillion at an annual rate. Economists had been forecasting a smaller rebound of around $5.5 billion.

Analysts are looking for a slowdown in the rapid pace of borrowing of the past two years as consumers start to feel less wealthy now that housing prices are no longer surging to record levels.

The overall economy slowed in 2006 as consumers trimmed the growth in spending and the housing market was battered by slowing sales and reduced building activity.

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