The Week Ahead

INSTALLMENT CREDIT

Monday, Feb. 7, 3 p.m. EST -- Consumers likely took on $7.9 billion in new debt in December, says the median forecast of economists polled by Standard & Poor's MMS, a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies. November credit jumped by $15.6 billion, one of the biggest gains on record. The borrowing binge reflects high consumer optimism about the economy as well as the growing wealth effect: Rising stock portfolios help people feel comfortable about high debt loads.

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