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Consumers boost borrowing despite prices

November 17, 2010

Consumers boosted their borrowing in March at the fastest pace in four months, showing resilience in the face of rising energy prices and a painful housing slump. 

The Federal Reserve report released this month showed 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.


Use of revolving credit, primarily credit cards, rose 9.2 percent in March. Demand for nonrevolving credit, used to finance cars, vacations, education and other things, rose 5.2 percent during the same month. 

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 continue spending.


Consumer debt in March climbed a whopping $13.46 billion to a record $2.43 trillion. Economists had expected borrowing torise $4.5 billion that month.