WASHINGTON, March 6 U.S. household net worth
jumped to a new high at the end of last year, as the value of
real estate and share holdings rose and bank accounts swelled.
The Federal Reserve said on Thursday net worth increased 3.8
percent to $80.66 trillion in the fourth quarter, eclipsing a
previous record high.
The value of households' property, consumer goods, bank
deposits and stocks all increased in the quarter, with share
portfolios jumping 10.5 percent and real estate up 2.1 percent.
The Fed said household net worth rose 14 percent in the full
year, driven by a $5.6 trillion rise in the value of shares and
a $2.3 trillion increase in the value of real estate.
The value of share portfolios almost doubled since 2009 to
$13.86 billion at the end of 2013, and the 34 percent rise last
year was more than twice as big as the gain notched in 2012.
Real estate holdings rose 11.6 percent in 2013.
The U.S. central bank has used ultra-loose monetary policy
to encourage a recovery in the nation's housing market following
a severe 2007-2009 recession, which has also helped drive U.S.
stocks to record highs.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index hit a record high on
Tuesday as investors shrugged off the impact of severe weather
across much of the U.S., suggesting further strong gains in net
Increases in housing wealth make it easier for families to
borrow against the equity in their homes, while overall wealth
gains make consumers feel generally more comfortable spending
their money. Many economists think consumers spend a few cents
of every dollar they gain in wealth.
Still, the figures showed growth in household debt slowed to
an annual rate of 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter, from 3.0
percent previously, as home mortgage debt fell. Net debt hit
Companies also resisted piling into new loans, with business
debt rising 7.1 percent in the quarter, a slowdown from the
Businesses were cashed-up as never before, with $1.98
trillion in liquid assets on hand in the fourth quarter, up from
$1.91 trillion in the third quarter, the data showed.