U.S. consumers borrowed more than twice as much as economists forecast in June as the slump in real-estate prices prevented homeowners...
U.S. consumers borrowed more than twice as much as economists forecast in June as the slump in real-estate prices prevented homeowners from tapping into home-equity lines of credit.
Consumer credit rose by $14.3 billion, the most since November, to $2.59 trillion, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. In May, credit rose by $8.1 billion, previously reported as an increase of $7.8 billion. The Fed’s report doesn’t cover borrowing secured by real estate.
Consumers are using credit cards and loans to cover expenses as falling home values cause banks to restrict access to home-equity lines.
“Consumers are stressed, and some who are short of cash are relying more on credit cards,” Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at Merk Investments, said before the report.
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Economists forecast an increase of $6.3 billion in consumer credit, according to the median of 32 estimates in a survey conducted by Bloomberg. Estimates ranged from gains of $3 billion to $8 billion.
According to the Fed, consumer borrowing accelerated at a 6.7 percent annual rate in June after gaining at a 3.8 percent pace the previous month.
Lenders are reluctant to take risks in the aftermath of the collapse of the subprime mortgage market. Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest U.S. securities firm, told thousands of clients this week they won’t be allowed to withdraw money on home-equity credit lines, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Consumers fell behind on home-equity credit lines at the fastest pace in two decades in the first quarter, the American Bankers Association reported last month.
American Express, the biggest U.S. credit-card company by purchases, in July withdrew its 2008 earnings forecast after second-quarter profit fell 37 percent on worse-than-expected consumer defaults. Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Chenault said the company will probably take a charge in the fourth quarter as it cuts jobs and trims expenses.
“Rising fuel prices, rising unemployment, record-low consumer confidence and most critically, housing declines have made this economic cycle unlike any other,” Chenault told analysts Wednesday.