Consumer borrowing up $13.5 billion in August

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U.S. consumers increased their borrowing in August in the category that covers auto loans and student loans but cut back on their credit card borrowing.

The Federal Reserve says that overall borrowing rose $13.5 billion in August following a revised $21.6 billion increase in July. The gains have pushed total consumer debt to a record level of $3.25 trillion.

The category that includes auto loans and student loans increased $13.7 billion in August while the category that covers credit card debt declined by $208 million, the first drop in this area in six months.

Rising levels of consumer borrowing are viewed as a good sign that with strong employment growth, consumers are more confident about taking on debt to finance purchases. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

BY MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer

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