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US consumers boost borrowing by $18.8b in December

WASHINGTON — Consumers boosted their borrowing in December by the largest amount in 10 months as demand for auto, student, and credit card loans showed big gains.

Consumer borrowing rose $18.8 billion in December, the biggest increase since February, the Federal Reserve reported Friday. The category that includes auto and student loans increased the most, rising $13.8 billion.

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Credit card debt, which has been lagging, rose by $5 billion, the largest jump since May.

The big increase pushed total borrowing to a fresh record of $3.1 trillion. Gains in borrowing are viewed as an encouraging sign that consumers are more confident and willing to take on more debt to finance consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

Consumers had increased borrowing by $12.4 billion in November.

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