Times Staff and Wire Reports

Credit Growth Slows Sharply: Consumers used their credit cards less in December, the Federal Reserve Board said. Total consumer installment credit expanded $7.38 billion at a 9.8% annual rate, down sharply from November’s $12.23 billion increase, a 16.5% rate. Analysts said the figures suggest that Fed policies designed to boost credit costs and therefore cool off the economy are working. December’s was the smallest monthly gain since July, when credit expanded only $6.75 billion.