Consumer credit for September beat market expectations by expanding at an annual rate of 3.5 percent to $7.4 billion, according to the latest data released by the Federal Reserve last week. Analysts had expected consumer credit growth to hit $5 billion for the month.
Total consumer credit for September hit $2.45 trillion, with revolving debt (such as credit cards) decreasing to $789.6 billion for the month and non-revolving debt (such as student and car loans) increasing to $1.66 trillion.
September's activity marked the third consecutive monthly drop in revolving debt, an indicator of continued consumer caution during a difficult economic recovery.
Looking at the wholesale sector, sales for merchant wholesalers in September increased by 0.5 percent over August to total $403.1 billion, the Census Bureau reported last week. In terms of categories, the big movers for the month were chemical and allied product sales, which increased 7.8 percent, and petroleum and petroleum products, which gained 3.9 percent.
Total inventories for wholesalers dropped 0.1 percent in September to $462 billion. This put September's inventory-to-sales ratio at 1.15, slightly down from September 2010's ratio of 1.18.
Foreign trade for September was encouraging, with total exports of $180.4 billion and imports of $223.5 billion resulting in a goods and services deficit of $43.1 billion, which was down from August's $44.9 billion, the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported last week.
September exports were $2.5 billion more than August's exports of $177.9 billion. September imports were $0.7 billion more than August imports of $222.8 billion.
Initial claims for jobless benefits filed during the week ending November 5 dropped to 390,000, a welcome decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 400,000, the Employment and Training Administration reported last week. The four-week moving average was 400,000, a decrease of 5,250 from the previous week's revised average of 405,250.
The total number of insured unemployed workers during the week ending October 29 dropped to 3,615,000, a decline of 92,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,707,000. The four-week moving average was 3,690,250, a decrease of 19,500 from the preceding week's revised average of 3,709,750.
This week's slate of economic news starts tomorrow with October's producer price index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, October retail sales and September's business inventories from the Census Bureau.
On Wednesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics follows up with its October consumer price index. Also on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve releases October's industrial production and capacity utilization figures.
Thursday sees initial jobless claims data from the Employment and Training Administration for last week, as well housing construction starts and building permits for October from the Census Bureau. The week closes with leading economic indicators for October from the Conference Board.