WASHINGTON — U.S. consumer borrowing advanced at a solid pace in August, as Americans took out more auto and student loans.
The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that consumer borrowing rose by $16 billion in August, pushing the total to a fresh record of $3.47 trillion.
The August advance was slightly below the July gain of $18.9 billion. In June, credit had soared by $27.2 billion, the largest increase since November 2001.
Borrowing for car and student loans expanded by $12 billion in August. Borrowing in the category that covers credit cards rose by $4 billion.
Economists are forecasting that consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, will remain strong in the coming months as households remain willing to take on more debt.
A strong consumer sector will help to offset weakness in other parts of the economy. Manufacturing and export sales have been hurt by increased weakness overseas and a higher dollar, which makes U.S. products less competitive on foreign markets.
The overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, expanded at a robust rate of 3.9 percent in the April-June quarter. But many economists believe growth slowed sharply in the July-September quarter to perhaps as low as 1.5 percent, reflecting the impact of a lackluster global economy.