Consumer Credit Rises on Strong US Auto Sales

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The Federal Reserve on Monday released its preliminary report on consumer credit for the month of October 2015. Consumer credit rose 5.5% in October, well below the 9.9% growth posted in September, but still higher than the August increase of 5.1%.

In dollar terms, consumer credit rose by about $16 billion month over month. Analysts had been expecting an increase of $20 billion.

Total consumer debt rose to $3.512 trillion in October of which $923.6 billion is revolving (mostly credit card) debt and $2.59 trillion is non-revolving debt. Revolving debt rose by just $2 billion and non-revolving debt rose by $15.8 billion. Revolving credit comprises primarily credit card balances and non-revolving credit includes motor vehicle loans, student loans, among others, and may be secured or unsecured. Mortgage debt is not included in the report.

The Fed’s report again confirms how strong U.S. auto sales are compared with weakness in other retail categories.

The largest holder of consumer debt is the federal government which holds about $918 billion in debt, including certain types of student loans. Banks hold about $740 billion in revolving debt and around $650 billion in non-revolving debt. Finance companies and credit unions are also large holders of non-revolving debt, with October totals of about $631 billion and $288 billion, respectively.

Credit card issuers Mastercard, Visa, American Express, and Discover were already trading lower Monday afternoon and did not move much in either direction once the Fed issued the consumer credit report.