Consumer Credit is on the rise yet again according to the Federal Reserve, although with it being a December reading we might consider it somewhat expected. What investors need to know is that this was the fifth straight month of gains.
Higher credit is tied to non-recurring debt such as auto loans and student loans, which helped the entire ex-mortgage credit levels rise by $14.6 billion up to $2.778 trillion on a seasonally adjusted basis. Dow Jones was calling for a gain of about $13 billion and Bloomberg was calling for a gain of closer to $14.5 billion.
This barometer is not a market mover at all when you consider how large the credit market is outside of mortgages. Still, it does measure how well people are willing to spend now. Chances are very high that if consumers expect their lives to get much more messy in the months ahead that they won’t go out and load up the credit boat (at least now). The flip side of this is that revolving dent, which is credit card debt, actually fell by $3.6 billion o just under the $850 billion mark. We would stress that before the recession took hold, the revolving credit peaked just above the $1 trillion mark.
The news may be mixed for credit card issuers, but it is good for car sales indications as we saw this last week. Again, this is not a market-moving number but it does offer insight into what consumers may be thinking in the months ahead.