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Americans boost borrowing at fastest pace in 4 months despite energy prices, housing slump

Americans boost borrowing at fastest pace in 4 months despite energy prices, housing slump

Consumers boosted their borrowing in March at the fastest pace in four months, suggesting they are remaining resilient in the face of rising energy prices and a painful housing slump.
The Federal Reserve's report, released Monday, showed that consumer credit increased at a brisk annual rate of 6.7 percent in March. That marked a pickup from February's 2.8 percent growth rate and was the biggest increase since November.
Consumer spending is indispensable to a healthy economy. The economy grew at an anemic 1.3 percent pace in the January-to-March quarter, the weakest in four years, due to fallout from the housing slump and belt tightening by businesses. Consumers, however, managed to spend modestly, an important factor in keeping the economy moving ahead.
Consumers heated up their credit cards in March.
Use of revolving credit, primarily credit cards, rose at a sizzling pace of 9.2 percent. That was up from a 2.9 percent growth rate in February and was the biggest increase since November.
Demand for nonrevolving credit used to finance cars, vacations, education and other things, also picked up. Nonrevolving credit use rose at a 5.2 percent pace in March, compared with a 2.7 percent growth rate in February.
The Fed's measure of consumer borrowing does not include mortgages or other loans secured by real estate.
The increase in March pushed total consumer debt up by a whopping $13.46 billion (euro9.89 billion) to a record $2.43 trillion (euro1.78 trillion).
That was a much larger rise than economists were forecasting. They were expecting consumer borrowing to rise by $4.5 billion (euro3.31 billion) in March from February.