Outstanding consumer credit increased at an annual rate of 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007 and rose 5.5 percent over the entire year. In December, consumer credit increased at an annual rate of 2 percent, down from the 7.4-percent increase rate in November, according to the recent Federal Reserve Statistical Release.

Nonrevolving consumer credit, which includes auto loans, increased at an annual rate of 1.8 percent, or $2.4 billion. In November it rose by 5 percent.

Interest rates at auto finance companies for new cars dropped to 3.91 percent in December from 4.20 percent in November.

Loan maturities remained steady from November to December at around 63 months. The loan-to-value ratio remained steady as well at 95 percent.

Amount financed decreased for the third consecutive month, by $357 in December to $29,062.

Nonrevolving consumer credit increased by $2 billion from November to December, reaching $1.58 trillion. Finance companies represent the majority of that at $495 billion, up $6 billion from November. Commercial banks represent the second largest segment, falling from November to December to $446 billion.

Pools of securitized assets dropped slightly in December to $235 billion from $238 billion in November. Credit unions made up $208 billion of nonrevolving consumer credit, a $1-billion decrease from November. Federal government and Sallie Mae remained steady from November to December, representing about $98 billion. Savings institutions and non-financial businesses made up $48 billion and $51 billion, respectively, an increase of $3 billion for non-financial businesses, but no change for savings institutions.