WASHINGTON — Consumers, battered by a credit crunch and prolonged housing slump, significantly slowed their pace of borrowing in February.

The Federal Reserve reported Monday that consumer borrowing rose at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in February, just half of the 4.9 percent increase in January.

The slowdown reflected much weaker demand for auto loans and other type of non-revolving credit, which rose at a rate of 0.4 percent in February, much lower than the 3.6 percent growth rate in January. Credit card debt rose at a 5.9 percent rate.

Consumers have been moving to put more of their purchases on their credit cards as banks have tightened up on lending standards for home equity loans in response to the deepening credit crisis. The price of homes has fallen sharply in many parts of the country.

The 2.4 percent overall rate of increase was the slowest since debt growth had slowed to a 1 percent rate in December.

The overall increase in credit of $5.16 billion, which was slightly below expectations, pushed total consumer credit to a record $2.539 trillion.

The Fed's measure of consumer borrowing does not include any debt secured by real estate such as mortgages or home equity loans.