U.S. First-Quarter Household Wealth Hits Record as Stocks Surge
Bloomberg – U.S. household wealth rebounded to a record in the first quarter as the stock market recovered from a plunge in the prior period, supporting consumers after Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes and trade-war shocks rattled investors late last year.
Net worth for households and non-profit groups increased by $4.69 trillion, or 4.5%, to $108.6 trillion after a 3.7% drop in the prior period, Federal Reserve data showed Thursday. Household debt growth slowed to a 2.3% annual pace, the least since late 2015, from a 2.8% rate in the prior quarter.
Wealth rebounded along with U.S. stocks, which rallied in the first quarter by the most since 2009 on the Fed signaling it will hold off on raising interest rates and signs the trade war was cooling. President Donald Trump has since reignited tensions, whipsawing markets even as gauges of consumer sentiment and confidence hold up. The value of equities directly and indirectly held by households and nonprofit groups increased $3.23 trillion from the prior quarter while the value of real estate rose by $387 billion. Corporate debt growth picked up to 7.6%, the fastest pace in three years and more than double the prior period. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said last month that “we take the risks from business debt seriously but think that the financial system appears strong enough to handle potential losses.”
Non-mortgage consumer credit increased at a 4.3% pace, slower than the prior two quarters but still signaling Americans are willing to borrow as interest rates remain relatively low. Federal government debt rose at an 8.6% annual rate, the second-fastest of Trump’s tenure, after 2.5% in the previous quarter. State and local government debt saw a fifth-straight contraction, falling 0.8%.