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US consumer credit falls sharply in FEB

Posted on: April 8, 2009


Tue Apr 7, 3:33 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumer borrowing fell more steeply than expected in February as credit and charge card use dropped by the most on record, a Federal Reserve report showed on Tuesday.

February’s consumer credit dropped $7.48 billion, or at an annual rate of 3.5 percent, after advancing at a rate of 3.8 percent or an upwardly revised $8.14 billion the prior month, previously reported as a $1.8 billion rise.

Analysts polled by Reuters were expecting a $1 billion drop in consumer borrowing for February.

Non-revolving credit, which includes closed-end loans for big-ticket items like cars, boats, college educations and holidays, rose $313 million, or at a 0.2 percent rate.

However, revolving credit, made up of credit and charge cards, plunged at a 9.7 percent rate, or $7.79 billion in February, the largest dollar drop since the Fed started tracking the series in 1968.

In percentage terms, the 9.7 percent decline was the biggest since January 1978, when it dropped 15.7 percent.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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