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US household debt edges higher in Q3: survey

[NEW YORK] Americans took on slightly more debt in the third quarter, up 0.7 per cent to total US$11.7 trillion, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The increase of US$78 billion from the previous quarter was driven by auto and student loans and credit card balances, and continues a general trend since the middle of last year. Household indebtedness is still 7.6 per cent below its peak six years ago, when a financial crisis set off the worst recession in decades.

The report on household debt and credit showed that mortgages, the largest slice of debt, edged up by 0.4 per cent. Mortgage originations rose a bit to US$337 billion, well below historical norms, while auto loan originations hit the highest level since 2005 at US$105 billion.

"In light of these data, it appears that the deleveraging period has come to an end and households are borrowing more," New York Fed economist Wilbert van der Klaauw said in a statement.

The New York Fed survey draws from a nationally representative consumer credit sample.

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