Americans relied on their credit cards to cope with the fastest price hikes in forty years in February, data from the Federal Reserve indicated on Thursday.
Total consumer credit increased by $41.98 billion in February, a massive acceleration from the rise of $8.9 billion in January, the Fed said. This was one of the largest monthly increases in consumer credit in records going back to 1943.
Revolving credit, mostly credit cars, rose at a 20.7 percent rate in February, up from a four percent gain in January.
Nonrevolving credit, mostly auto loans and student loans, rose 8.4 percent.
Home loans are not included in the consumer credit data compiled by the Federal Reserve.
Economists had forecast a much milder increase of $16.6 billion.
Consumer prices rose 0.8 percent in February. Compared with a year earlier, prices were up 7.9 percent, the most inflation since 1982. The cost of groceries jumped 1.4 percent and was up 8.6 percent compared with a year ago. Gasoline prices rose 6.6 percent and were up 38 percent annually.
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