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Published: Monday, 2/7/2011

Consumer debt rises for 3rd month in row

WASHINGTON — The first increase in credit-card debt since the financial crisis hit helped to boost overall consumer borrowing 3 percent in December, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $2.41 trillion, the Federal Reserve said Monday.

The monthly gain was the third consecutively.

Borrowing in the category that includes credit cards rose 3.5 percent, the first rise since August, 2008. Borrowing on auto loans increased 2.8 percent.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, viewed the gain as an encouraging sign that households are becoming more confident about the economy and jobs.



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