Consumers borrowing more for autos and student loans

U.S. consumers increased their borrowing in February on autos and student loans by the largest amount in a year. But for a second straight month, they cut back on their credit card use.

Consumer borrowing climbed $16.5 billion in February, up from a $13.5 billion gain in January, the Federal Reserve reported Monday.

The category that includes credit cards fell $2.4 billion after a $241 million drop in January. But this decline was offset by an $18.9 billion increase in borrowing in the category that covers autos and student loans. 

Leaders of Japan, Australia announce free trade deal

Japan and Australia have agreed on a free trade deal that both sides say will yield windfalls for their economies.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, announced the pact, Japan’s first with a major agricultural economy, at a news conference Monday.

The deal calls for Japan to gradually phase out its nearly 40 percent tariffs on Australian exports of beef. In turn, Australia is to end its tariffs on Japanese-made vehicles, household appliances and electronics.