NEW YORK May 13 Americans racked up more debt
in the first quarter, the third straight quarterly increase,
thanks in large part to heftier mortgages, a survey by the
Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed on Tuesday.
The report on household debt and credit showed however that
mortgage originations dropped to their lowest level since the
third quarter of last year, which could buck the overall trend
of growing confidence among U.S. consumers.
Outstanding household debt rose by $129 billion from the
previous quarter, boosted by a $116 billion jump in mortgage
debt and smaller rises in student and auto loans, the report
said. Total household indebtedness was $11.65 trillion, which is
still 8.1 percent below the peak in the third quarter of 2008.
Since then, the U.S. economy has been plunged into a deep
recession that for years caused Americans to tighten their
belts. That trend has started to reverse in recent quarters,
according to the New York Fed survey that draws from a
nationally representative consumer credit sample.
"We've observed household debt increase three quarters in a
row and delinquency rates at their lowest levels since 2008,"
Andy Haughwout, a New York Fed economist, said in the report,
noting that "the direction of future mortgage originations will
have an important implication on the household financial
Mortgage originations slipped by $120 billion to $332
(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)