Borrowing by U.S. Consumers Rises Least Since November 2013

Consumer borrowing rose in January by the least since November 2013 as Americans’ outstanding credit-card debt dropped for the first time in nearly a year.

The $10.5 billion advance in total credit followed a revised $21.4 billion gain in the previous month, Federal Reserve figures showed Monday. Revolving debt, which includes credit cards, declined $1.1 billion, the first decrease since February 2015.

Households, wary of spoiling the progress they’ve made in repairing balance sheets after the last recession, are being deliberate in their credit-card use. At the same time, steady car sales indicate Americans a less anxious about taking out low-interest auto loans.

Non-revolving loans, which include funding for college tuition and auto purchases, rose $11.6 billion in January after a $15.9 billion gain a month earlier. Lending by the federal government, which is mainly for student loans, rose by almost $27 billion before adjusting for seasonal variations.

The median forecast of 32 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a $17 billion increase in total borrowing, with estimates ranging from gains of $6.5 billion to $21 billion. December credit was previously reported as rising $21.3 billion.

The Fed’s consumer credit report doesn’t track debt secured by real estate, such as home equity lines of credit and home mortgages.

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