Jan Consumer Credit unexpectedly rises

Jan Consumer Credit outstanding rose by $5b seasonally adjusted vs an expected decline of $4.5b. It is the first increase since Jan ’09 and was solely led by a $6.6b rise in nonrevolving (mostly auto’s) credit. Revolving credit (mostly credit cards) outstanding fell by $1.7b. On a non seasonally adjusted basis, consumer credit fell from the holiday induced jump in the Nov and Dec timeframe but it didn’t fall as much as expected and its why the seasonal adjustment showed an increase. Because the overall gain was led by mostly auto’s, its tough to extrapolate to a pick up in credit card usage but there is no question retail sales of late have surprised to the upside. This is notwithstanding the drivers of consumer spending, income growth, jobs and credit all being obviously constrained.

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