WASHINGTON — Americans took out $5.38 billion more in consumer credit than they paid off in July, the Federal Reserve Board reported Tuesday.
The Fed said the July increase represented an 11.4% annual rate of gain, down from the revised 11.5% annual growth rate for June and the 12.2% annual pace set during the second quarter this year. The July increase followed a $5.39-billion advance in June and rises of $6.46 billion in May and $4.87 billion in April.
The July growth rate was the slowest since April, when credit expanded at an annual rate of 10.6%.
Consumer spending was a key force that kept the economy moving in the April-June quarter, but analysts have expressed fears that the buying spree may be coming to an end as Americans begin to worry about record high levels of debt.
Gains in auto loans accounted for most of the July increase, just as they had in June. In July, auto loans rose by $3.63 billion, down slightly from June's increase of $3.64 billion.