Consumer borrowing picked up in July, according to the Federal Reserve on Monday. Total consumer credit rose $16.6 billion in July to a seasonally adjusted $3.91 trillion. That’s an annual growth rate of 5.1%. Economists had been expecting a $13.9 billion gain, according to Econoday. Credit rose a revised $8.5 billion in June, down from the prior estimate of $10.2 billion.
Revolving credit, such as credit cards, rose only slightly in July. Borrowing on credit cards rose by 1.5%, reversing a 1.4% drop in June. Nonrevolving credit, typically auto and student loans, jumped 6.4% in July after a 4% gain in the prior month. That is the largest increase in eight months. The report does not include mortgage debt.
Consumer credit had big gains around the holidays and in May, but overall has been on a slight downward trend, economists said. This raises some concern about whether spending will continue to power growth in coming quarters. In the April-June quarter, consumer spending jumped 3.8%, due, in part, to the Trump tax cuts. Stronger wage growth, seen in the August job report, might help bolster spending. Banks are tightening standards on credit cards to borrowers with low credit scores, according to separate Fed data.
What they are saying?:
“Consumers still appear to have some degree of caution in the spending. They are living within their means,” said Sarah House, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities. Consumers are leading the expansion, and “the fact that they are doing it not entirely on credit is pretty encouraging.”