Consumer borrowing rose in May
WASHINGTON » Americans took on more debt in May and used their credit cards more for only the second time in nearly three years. Consumers stepped up their borrowing just as the economy began to slump and hiring slowed.
The Federal Reserve said Friday that consumer borrowing rose by $5.1 billion in May, the eighth straight monthly increase. It followed a revised gain of $5.7 billion in April. Borrowing in the category that covers credit cards increased, as did borrowing in the category for auto and student loans.
The overall increase pushed consumer borrowing to a seasonally adjusted annual level of $2.43 trillion in May. That was just 1.7 percent higher than the nearly four-year low of $2.39 trillion hit in September.
Borrowing is a sign of confidence in the economy. Consumers tend to take on more debt when they feel wealthier. That boosts consumer spending. Ultimately, it gives businesses more faith to expand and hire. An increase in credit card debt can also be a sign of people falling on harder times.
Wholesale inventory up, sales down
WASHINGTON » Wholesale companies added to their stockpiles for a 17th straight month in May, but their sales declined for only the second time in the past 11 months, providing further evidence of the economy’s spring slowdown.
The Commerce Department said Friday that wholesale inventories rose 1.8 percent in May, the biggest gain since October. Some of that increase reflected an unwanted buildup of goods because sales declined.
Sales at the wholesale level fell 0.2 percent, the report said. The sales drop was led by a big decline in auto sales, and the inventory buildup also reflected a large rise in auto stockpiles.
The weakness in May sales offered the latest evidence that the economy slowed in the spring as consumers struggled with soaring gas prices and high unemployment.
IMF OKs billions for Greek rescue
WASHINGTON » The International Monetary Fund has approved providing Greece just more than 3 billion euros ($4.2 billion) in the latest installment of a rescue package aimed at helping the country pull back from an impending debt default.
The move by the executive board was expected after a decision last week by eurozone finance ministers to give Greece their portion of a 12 billion-euro ($17.39 billion) loan payment that is part of a 110 billion-euro ($259 billion) package agreed upon last year.
The IMF action Friday under new Managing Director Christine Lagarde came as European banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions were trying to get the private sector involved in helping save Greece from default.
Today’s ship arrivals and departures:
ON THE MOVE
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Hawaii has named Stan Hershenow its regional director of group sales. He was previously a services and solutions executive for the Xerox Corp. and performance solutions manager at ITA Group. Hershenow also has 21 years in the hospitality industry, working with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, La Quinta Resort & Club, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. and the Grand American Hotel Corp.
The Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to Make-a-Wish Foundation of Hawaii. The award will enable the organization to grant more wishes for children in Hawaii who are facing life-threatening medical conditions.
Bishop Museum named Patrick Vinton Kirch as the recipient of its Herbert E. Gregory Medal for distinguished service to science in the Pacific region. Kirch is a University of California, Berkeley, professor of anthropology and integrative biology.
Alan Okami of KoAloha Ukulele, Pali Ka‘aihue of Pakele Foundation & Doko GA TV and Don Lee of Strum-n-Sway have collaborated to bring HAU-Hawaii Asia Uapo to Asia. The mission of HAU is to bring quality production and entertainment as well as to help foster and introduce Hawaii dancers, cultural practitioners and musicians to the Asian markets, especially for Japan, Korea and China.