U.S. consumer borrowing swelled in July by the most since late 2017 as Americans carried larger credit-card balances to fund their purchases.
Total credit rose by $23.3 billion from the prior month, exceeding all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists, Federal Reserve figures showed Monday. Revolving debt outstanding increased by $10 billion, also the most since November 2017, while the growth of non-revolving credit was little changed from a month earlier.
• The surge in borrowing indicates Americans, supported by higher wages, were feeling confident enough about their financial situation to continue borrowing and spending. The economy, beset by weakness in manufacturing, housing and capital investment, remains highly dependent on the U.S. consumer to keep driving the expansion.
• At the same time, bigger credit-card statements may indicate households feel they are overextended and may become more tentative about spending.
• Data out last week showed sustained job growth, higher-than-expected wage gains and a labor market that continues to draw more people off the sidelines and into the labor force. Persistent strength in the jobs market could help support further consumer borrowing.
• The gain in revolving credit outstanding, which includes credit card debt, followed a $186 million drop in June.
• Non-revolving debt outstanding advanced $13.3 billion after rising $14 billion. Such debt includes loans for school and cars.
Total credit expanded at an annual rate of 6.8% in July, after growing about 4% the month prior.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had projected the credit gauge would rise by $16 billion.
Lending by the federal government, which is mainly for student loans, rose by $3.7 billion before seasonal adjustment.
The consumer credit report doesn't track debt secured by real estate, such as home mortgages.