American consumer credit climbed less than forecast in December, closing out the smallest annual increase in household borrowing since 2013.
The $14.2 billion advance last month followed a revised $25.2 billion jump in the prior month, Federal Reserve figures showed Tuesday. For all of 2016, borrowing rose 6.4 percent.
Consumer debt was restrained in December by a smaller advance in credit-card balances. Americans, emboldened by a steady pace of hiring and cheap financing, were still more willing to borrow for big-ticket purchases such as cars.
The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a $20 billion increase in total consumer credit, with estimates ranging from $10.6 billion to $26 billion. The November reading was previously reported as an advance of $24.5 billion.
Revolving debt, which includes credit cards, rose by $2.4 billion following an $11.8 billion increase, the Fed’s report showed.
Non-revolving debt, such as that for college tuition and the purchase of vehicles and mobile homes, climbed $11.8 billion after a $13.4 billion increase.
Lending by the federal government, which is mainly for student loans, rose by $9.6 billion in the fourth quarter before adjusting for seasonal variations. Loans for motor vehicles climbed $12.4 billion.
The Fed’s consumer credit report doesn’t track debt secured by real estate, such as home equity lines of credit and home mortgages.
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