Are consumers cooling it on credit card use?

More signs of a sluggish economy: Consumer credit grew in April at a much slower pace than expected - and the March figures were revised downward. Economists hadn't expected the numbers to be quite so low. Revolving credit, which includes credit-card debt, actually fell. This is super-macro data and so I'd be careful jumping to too many conclusions. Still, the slower growth does fit with other logy indicators. From AP:

More borrowing is generally viewed as a healthy sign for the economy. It suggests consumers are gaining confidence and growing more comfortable taking on debt. But if consumers are cutting back on credit card debt, it may suggest they are worried about the economy. Consumer spending grew in the first three months of the year at the fastest pace since late 2010. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. Still, most U.S. households are spending more while saving less. They saved just 3.6 percent of their after-tax income in the January-March quarter, down from 4.2 percent in the October-December quarter.

The news came out with the stock market still in session, and there did seem to be a negative reaction (though this was a real up-and-down market day and so who knows what might have fueled the selling). In any event, the Dow closed up 46 points, to 12,460.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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