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More confident consumers break out credit cards

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Americans are putting more money on their credit cards after more than two years of cutting back, a sign that they are gaining confidence in the economy.

The first increase in credit-card debt since the financial crisis hit helped to boost overall consumer borrowing 3 percent in December, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $2.41 trillion, the Federal Reserve said Monday. It was the third straight monthly gain.

Borrowing in the category that includes credit cards rose 3.5 percent, the first rise since August 2008. Borrowing on auto loans increased 2.8 percent.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, viewed the gain as an encouraging sign that households are becoming more confidence about the economy and jobs. He also said banks are loosening some lending restrictions put in place after the financial crisis.

Even with the December gains, consumer borrowing is just 0.7 percent higher than the more than three-year low hit in September. It is 6.6 percent below the high set in July 2008. But analysts predicted further credit gains in coming months.

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FDIC seeks delay in bonuses for top bank execs

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Federal regulators have proposed making top executives at large financial firms wait at least three years to be paid half of their annual bonuses, a move designed to cut down on risky financial transactions.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. voted Monday to advance the rule, which builds on more general requirements in last year's financial regulatory law to curtail risk-taking. The rule targets firms with $50 billion or more in assets, seeking to tie bonuses with financial performance over a longer time period.

The requirement would apply major financial institutions, such as Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Wells Fargo & Co.

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