Consumer borrowing in the United States increased less than the estimate in March as Americans made less credit card purchases for the first time in 2013. The $7.97 billion increase came after the $18.6 billion advance the previous month, which was the largest since May 2012.

The average estimate in a Bloomberg poll was an increase of $15.6 billion. Revolving credit dropped while non-revolving borrowing increased. 31 economists polled by Bloomberg estimated gains ranging from $11 billion to $20 billion.

Credit card use and consumer spending dropped in March. At the same time income growth was limited and payroll taxes increased. Stock prices went up and home values allowed households to repair finances and placed them in a position to take advantage of low borrowing costs for purchases.

Stocks increased that sent the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to its fourth record close in a row. This was attributed to the optimistic view on global central bank stimulus as well as better-than-estimated corporate earnings. The S&P 500 went up 0.5 percent to 1,625.96 to close the trading session in New York.

Revolving debt decreased by $1.71 billion after a $452.7 million gain. Personal spending in March increased 0.2 percent after the 0.7 percent advance in the previous month. Incomes went up 0.2 percent after a 1.1 percent gain.

Non-revolving debt went up $9.68 billion. These included college tuition and purchase of mobile homes and vehicles. Lending to consumers by the federal government increased by $3.9 billion before it was adjusted for seasonal variations.

Americans returning to school depend on student loans in time when job opportunities remain limited. According to a Labor Department report, the number of positions waiting to be filled dropped to 3.84 million in March from a revised 3.9 million the previous month. Hiring slowed in the same period as firings increased.

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