Fed Says Americans Borrowing More

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Americans increased their borrowing in October to buy cars and pay for college, and they also charged a little bit more on their credit cards.

This second straight monthly rise in spending could be a sign that consumers are growing more confident in the economy as the holiday buying season continues.

Total consumer borrowing rose by $7.6 billion, according to a report released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve.

Borrowing has increased in 11 of the past 12 months. But credit card use has increased only six times in the past two years.

Some economists point out that borrowing may be rising because people are earning less.

"Many Americans had to break out the plastic in the past couple of months since disposable income, adjusted for inflation, was in negative territory for each month in the third quarter," said Chris Christopher, senior economist at IHS Global Insight.

Economists predict Europe's current debt crisis could plunge the continent into a recession, which would also hamper the U.S. economy's growth.

They also worry that if Congress doesn't extend the Social Security tax cut and emergency unemployment benefits by the end of this month, $165 billion in potential spending could be sucked out of the economy next year.

Meanwhile, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits dropped to its lowest level in nine months.

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