Americans stepped up borrowing in January to buy more cars and attend school, a reflection of their growing confidence in the economy.
The Federal Reserve says consumer borrowing rose by $17.8 billion in January after similar gains in December and November.
Total consumer borrowing has climbed back steadily to a seasonally adjusted $2.5 trillion. That nearly matches the pre-recession borrowing level.
The January gain was driven by $20.7 billion increase in category that mostly measures demand for auto and student loans. It was the biggest increase for that category since November 2001. Borrowing on credit cards fell $2.9 billion in January after four months of gains.
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