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U.S. Consumer Credit Rose By $5 Billion In May: Federal Reserve

Consumer Credit

First Posted: 07/08/11 05:13 PM ET Updated: 09/07/11 06:12 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Glenn Somerville) - U.S. consumer credit rose by another $5.08 billion in May, according to a Federal Reserve report on Friday that suggested a willingness to keep borrowing despite a tight job market.

The May rise, coming after a revised $5.67 billion increase in April, handily topped forecasts by Wall Street economists for a $4 billion increase and marked the eighth straight month of growth in consumer credit.

The total of all consumer credit outstanding in May was $2.432 trillion, up from a total of $2.427 trillion in April.

The key change in May came in a category called "revolving credit," principally credit-card debt, that shot up by $3.36 billion in May after declining by $876.7 million in April.

That was the biggest increase in credit-card debt for any month since mid-2008, when the economy was in the midst of the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

The Fed provides no commentary with its report to help understand the big monthly shifts. One possibility is that consumers facing limited job prospects were forced to turn to credit cards more frequently to pay bills.

For a lengthy period from late 2008 until recently, consumers had been paying down credit-card debt on a fairly regular basis. Analysts said that trend, which effectively meant debt loads were easing, was healthy because it should put consumers in a better position in future to resume spending and thus add to economic growth.

A category called "nonrevolving credit," which includes such items as student loans and car loans, expanded by $1.7 billion in May after shooting up by $6.54 billion in April.

(Editing by Jan Paschal)

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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Filed by James Sunshine  |