Total consumer credit increased at an annual rate of 4.8% for November to hit $3.07 trillion, according to a Federal Reserve consumer credit report (link opens a pdf) released today. 

Investors watch consumer credit closely for two main reasons. Credit gives an indication of consumer sentiment, and growing numbers can mean either more confident or more cash-strapped consumers. Demand for credit also affects interest rates, which could rise as more consumers want more money.

After expanding at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 7% for October, this month's $12.3 billion month-over-month increase clocked in $1.9 billion below analyst expectations. 

Revolving credit (no fixed number of payments, e.g., credit cards) increased at an annual rate of 0.6%. While the month-to-month gain was relatively small, November's increase comes on the heels of October's 5.6% rise, the third largest of the recovery.

Nonrevolving credit (fixed installments, e.g., car payments) packed the most punch, up 6.4% as vehicle and student loans continue to grow. But The Wall Street Journal reported that student loans may be inflated due to government purchases of private loans.

US Total Consumer Credit Outstanding Chart

US Total Consumer Credit Outstanding data by YCharts.