WASHINGTON – U.S. consumers added to their debt at a slower pace in February, the Federal Reserve (search) said in a report Wednesday.
The Fed said outstanding consumer credit, which excludes mortgage debt, rose by $4.1 billion to a seasonally adjusted $2.019 trillion in February.
January credit growth was revised up to a $15.8 billion gain from the initially reported $14.3 billion surge.
The pace of credit use reflected a sharper slowdown than Wall Street had been expecting. Forecasters had been anticipating a $7.7 billion gain in February.
As in recent months, non-revolving credit - which includes fixed-term loans for cars, boats and tuition expenses - posted a larger gain than revolving debt, rising by $2.6 billion in February.
The growth in non-revolving credit was aided by continued low interest rates on autos. The average rate from the finance arms of the Big Three automakers (search) dipped to 3.00 percent from 3.20 percent in January, the Fed said.
Revolving debt, which tracks charge and credit card usage, rose by a smaller $1.6 billion in February.
January's revised growth in credit outstanding was the largest since May 2003, when credit surged by $17.9 billion.