LOS ANGELES – American families boosted their debt late last year at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis, an indication of improving consumer confidence as the economy gains steam.
Household debt rose by $241 billion in the fourth quarter, the biggest increase since the third quarter of 2007, according to the data released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The gain was paced by a $152 billion pickup in mortgage debt, in part because of reduced foreclosures.
“This quarter is the first time since before the Great Recession that household debt has increased over its year-ago levels, suggesting that after a long period of deleveraging, households are borrowing again,” said Wilbert van der Klaauw, an economist at the New York Fed.
Homebuilders report gloomier outlook
Storms and cold weather dampened U.S. homebuilders’ outlook for sales ahead of the spring home-selling season and could further slow the pace of home construction.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Tuesday slid to 46. That’s down from January’s reading of 56 and is the lowest level since May.
Readings below 50 indicate that more builders view sales conditions as poor rather than good.
Biggest buyer of gold last year was China
LOS ANGELES – China took the gold medal last year in purchases of the precious metal, becoming the world’s largest consumer even as overall world demand was down in the face of rising stock prices.
Consumers bought a record 3,863.5 tons of gold jewelry, coins and bars worldwide last year, up 21 percent from 2012, according to data released Tuesday by the World Gold Council, a market development organization for the industry.
China and India led that demand.
Demand was up 32 percent in China, where consumers bought 1,120.1 tons of gold, overtaking India as the world’s largest consumer, according to the group’s annual report.
Nestle recalls certain Hot Pockets products
Nestle is voluntarily recalling two of its Hot Pockets products as part of a larger meat recall.
The food maker said Tuesday that it is recalling an unspecified number of “Philly Steak” and “Croissant Crust Philly Steak and Cheese” Hot Pockets in certain sizes.
Nestle said the products may have been affected by a meat recall by Rancho Feeding Corp. that was announced last week.
Rancho is recalling more than 8.7 million pounds of beef products after regulators said it processed diseased and unhealthy animals without a full inspection. The USDA says the products were unfit for human consumption.
Everett will be home of Boeing 777X site
EVERETT – Boeing has picked Everett as the site to build wings for its new 777X aircraft.
The company said Tuesday that the wing center will be located north of its Everett factory and sustain thousands of area jobs in the years to come. Construction on the new facility is scheduled to begin later this year.
The Chicago-based company plans to deliver its first 777X aircraft in 2020.
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