US consumer credit up 4.4pc in November, best in five months

WASHINGTON (AP) — United States (US) consumer borrowing rose 4.4 per cent in November, its strongest showing in five months, led by strong gains in auto and student loans that offset a drop in credit card borrowing.

The Federal Reserve said on Friday that the rise represented an increase of USD15.3 billion, the best showing since June. Borrowing had risen USD4.5 billion in October.

Borrowing for autos and student loans increased by USD16.1 billion, while borrowing in the category that includes credit cards fell by USD786.7 million after a larger USD5.5 billion drop in October.

The drop in credit card use was an indication consumers remain cautious about spending amid a spike in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

Consumer borrowing is closely watched for indications of the willingness of households to take on more debt to support their spending, which accounts for 70 per cent of US economic activity.

The Labor Department reported on Friday that the economy lost 140,000 jobs in December, the first job losses since April and evidence that the economy is slowing as coronavirus cases surge.

Analysts said that in coming months there are likely to be more job losses, but also further relief government support, which President-elect Joe Biden has promised to push through Congress.