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U.S. household wealth bounced back in early 2019 -Fed

Jason Lange

WASHINGTON, June 6 (Reuters) - U.S. household wealth surged at the beginning of this year as equity prices rose sharply and household financial positions bounced back from a historic decline at the end of 2018, the Federal Reserve said on Thursday.

In a quarterly report on America's finances, the Fed said household net worth rose to $108.6 trillion at the end of March, up 4.5% from the end of December.

The increase included a 12% rise in the value of corporate equity held by households.

U.S. financial markets fell sharply toward the end of 2018 as investors worried about a slowing global economy, international trade tensions and the prospect that the Fed would raise interest rates.

Equity prices have bounced back this year as the Fed made clear that rate increases were on hold, although equity prices have been shakier in the last month as the Trump administration has threatened to escalate its trade war with China and to raise tariffs on Mexico.

The Fed's report issued on Thursday showed U.S. consumers were still increasing their borrowing. U.S. household debt rose at a 2.3% annual rate to $15.7 trillion in the first quarter, stepping down from the 2.8% growth rate clocked in the last three months of 2018. (Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Andrea Ricci)