WASHINGTON (AP) — U. S. consumers likely increased their borrowing in November, as many started shopping for the holidays and people in the Northeast began replacing cars damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
Economists forecast that consumer borrowing rose $10.8 billion in November compared with October, according to a survey by FactSet. The Federal Reserve will release the report at 3 p.m. EST Tuesday.
In October, consumers increased their borrowing by $14.2 billion to a seasonally adjusted record of $2.75 trillion.
Borrowing increased in all major categories during a month when Americans cut back on consumer spending, reflecting in part disruptions from the storm.
Consumer spending rebounded in November, helped by lower gas prices and solid job growth that carried over into December. Employers added 155,000 jobs in December and 161,000 in November, the government said last week.
Steady hiring may have encouraged consumers to keep borrowing and spending, despite tense negotiations to resolve the fiscal cliff. Last week, Congress and the White House reached a deal last week to avert sharp tax increases. They delayed tougher decisions about spending cuts for another two months.
Consumer spending drives roughly 70 percent of economic activity.
Even with the borrowing gains, many consumers have been reluctant to build up credit card debt, which typically carries steeper interest rates than other loans.
Credit card usage has fallen sharply since the 2008 credit crisis. Four years ago, Americans had $1.03 trillion in credit card debt, an all-time high. In October, that figure was 17 percent lower.
During the same period, student loan debt has increased dramatically. The category that includes auto and student loans is 22 percent higher than in July 2008. That reflects in part the fact that many Americans who have lost jobs decided to go back to school to get training for new careers.