US consumer borrowing up $20.5 billion in October

FILE - In this June 15, 2017, file photo, credit cards are displayed in Haverhill, Mass. On Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, the Federal Reserve releases its October report on consumer borrowing. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

WASHINGTON — American consumers increased their borrowing by $20.5 billion in October. It was the biggest gain in 11 months and reflected strong increases in the use of credit cards and in auto and student loans.

The October followed a $19.2 billion gain in September and was the best showing since November 2016, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.

The category that covers auto loans and student loans was up $12.2 billion, slightly slower than the $13.2 billion rise in September. Borrowing in the category that covers credit cards rose by $8.3 billion, up from a $6 billion increase in September and the strongest showing since November.

The solid gains were good signs for strength in consumer spending heading into the holiday shopping season. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

Reports from the retailers have indicated a strong start to the holiday season with shoppers buying more than last year.

The U.S. economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at a healthy rate of 3.3 percent in the July-September quarter after a 3.1 percent rate in the spring. It marked the first back-to-back quarterly gains above 3 percent in three years.

The overall gain in borrowing pushed consumer credit to a new record of $3.8 trillion. The Federal Reserve's monthly consumer credit report does not cover home mortgages or any other loans secured by real estate such as home equity loans.

Must Read

Turkey accuses Germany of 'Nazi' practices; rift...

Mar 5, 2017

A diplomatic rift between Turkey and key European nations deepened Sunday as President Recep Tayyip...

The Latest: Turkish prime minister vows strong...

Mar 12, 2017

The Latest: Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says his country will strongly respond to Dutch...

Dutch voting in election seen as barometer of...

Mar 15, 2017

Prime Minister Mark Rutte and anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders cast Wednesday's Dutch...

Did Erdogan, Trump hurt Geert Wilders' bid for...

Mar 16, 2017

If Geert Wilders is looking for somebody to blame for his disappointing showing in Dutch elections,...

After takeover bid, Unilever announces major...

Apr 6, 2017

Consumer products giant Unilever says it plans to sell its spreads division and combine its foods...