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US consumers boost borrowing by $18.8B in December

By Martin Crutsinger

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Feb. 7 2014 1:26 p.m. MST

In this Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, file photo, people wait in line to at a customer service desk while shopping the day after Christmas, in Lynchburg, Va. The Federal Reserve reports on consumer borrowing in December on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014.

The News & Advance, Sam O'Keefe, File, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON — Consumers boosted their borrowing in December by the largest amount in 10 months as demand for auto, student and credit card loans showed big gains.

The Federal Reserve says consumer borrowing rose $18.8 billion in December, the biggest increase since February. The category that includes auto and student loans increased the most, rising $13.8 billion. Credit card debt, which has been lagging, rose by $5 billion. That was the largest jump since May.

The big increase pushed total borrowing to a fresh record of $3.1 trillion. Gains in borrowing are viewed as an encouraging sign that consumers are more confident and willing to take on more debt to finance consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

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