US consumer borrowing rose $17.5 billion in March

By Martin Crutsinger

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, May 7 2014 1:34 p.m. MDT

In this March 5, 2012 file photo, consumer credit cards are posed for a photo in North Andover, Mass. The Federal Reserve releases consumer credit data for March 2014 on Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

Elise Amendola, File, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON — Consumers increased their borrowing in March by the largest amount in more than a year, using their credit cards and taking out more auto and student loans.

The Federal Reserve says consumer borrowing increased $17.5 billion in March, up from a gain of $13 billion in February. It was the biggest monthly increase since a $19.3 billion advance in February 2013.

The category that includes auto and student loans rose $16.4 billion while the category that covers credit card borrowing increased $1.1 billion.

The overall increase in consumer debt pushed total borrowing to a record $3.14 trillion.

Gains in borrowing are seen as an encouraging sign that people are more confident and willing to take on debt.

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