Americans increased their borrowing in December at the slowest pace in eight months, additional evidence that economic activity was slowing significantly at the end of last year. For all of 2007, consumer credit rose at the fastest clip in three years.
The Federal Reserve reported Thursday that consumer borrowing rose at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in December, a sharp slowdown from an 8.2 percent jump in November. It was the weakest showing since credit had increased just 1.6 percent in April.
The gain was about half of what economists had been expecting. They had forecast that total credit would rise by $8 billion and instead it increased by $4.5 billion to $2.52 trillion.
The report on consumer borrowing was the latest evidence that economic activity was slowing at the end of last year as households were struggling with a prolonged slump in housing and a severe credit squeeze which has prompted banks to tighten their lending standards.