U.S. consumer credit in December grew by the most in nearly a year due to a sharp increase in credit card usage, a potentially positive sign for the economy, according to the Federal Reserve's latest G.19 report.

Total consumer credit rose by $18.8 billion to $3.1 trillion. It was the biggest gain since February. Economists polled by Reuters had expected consumer credit to rise by $12 billion in December.

Revolving credit, which mostly measures credit-card use, rose by $5 billion in December after climbing $465 million in November. Revolving credit figures can be volatile.

Non-revolving credit, which includes auto loans as well as student loans made by the government, increased $13.8 billion in December.

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