Americans borrow more but hit the plastic less


Consumers increased their borrowing in January on autos and student loans but cut back on their credit card use.

The Federal Reserve says consumer borrowing rose $13.7 billion in January following an even larger $15.9 billion rise in December.

The category that includes auto and student loans increased $13.9 billion while the category that covers credit cards fell $226 million, marking the third time in the past five months that credit card loans have declined.

The big overall increase pushed total borrowing to a record $3.11 trillion. Gains in borrowing are seen as an encouraging sign that people are more confident and willing to take on debt to finance consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.