US: Consumer Credit

Mon May 07 14:00:00 CDT 2018

Consensus Consensus Range Actual Previous Revised
Consumer Credit - M/M change $15.6B $11.0B to $19.1B $11.6B $10.6B $13.6B

Consumer credit came in on the low side of expectations, up $11.6 billion in March with February revised $3.0 billion higher to $13.6 billion. Revolving credit is once again the weak spot, down $2.6 billion in the month following a $0.5 billion decline in February. Weakness in revolving credit, which includes credit cards, explains at least part of the slowdown in first-quarter consumer spending. Non-revolving credit, which includes both student loans and vehicle loans, rose $14.2 billion in both March and February.

Market Consensus Before Announcement
A stronger increase in consumer credit is the call for March, at a consensus $15.6 billion vs $10.6 billion in February. Growth in revolving credit has slowed sharply this year and is one of the factors that has held down consumer spending.

The dollar value of consumer installment credit outstanding. Changes in consumer credit indicate the state of consumer finances and portend future spending patterns.

Growth in consumer credit can hold positive or negative implications for the economy and markets. Economic activity is stimulated when consumers borrow within their means to buy cars and other major purchases. On the other hand, if consumers pile up too much debt relative to their income levels, they may have to stop spending on new goods and services just to pay off old debts. That could put a big dent in economic growth.

The demand for credit also has a direct bearing on interest rates. If the demand to borrow money exceeds the supply of willing lenders, interest rates rise. If credit demand falls and many willing lenders are fighting for customers, they may offer lower interest rates to attract business.

Financial market players focus less attention on this indicator because it is reported with a long lag relative to other consumer information. Long term investors who do pay attention to this report will have a greater understanding of consumer spending ability. This will give them a lead on investment alternatives. Also, during times of distress in credit markets, consumer credit can give an idea about how willing banks are to lend.