American household wealth dips slightly

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Americans' wealth dipped about 0.5 percent in the April-June quarter, as a drop in stock prices more than offset a gain in home values.

Yet, since June a resurgent stock market has jumped about 7 percent, more than reversing last quarter's 3 percent drop in stock prices. And it's brought many Americans closer to regaining the wealth they lost to the recession -- if they managed to keep their home and have invested in stocks.

Rising wealth could give many people and businesses the confidence to step up spending and boost U.S. economic growth and job creation.

That's a key goal of the bond-buying plan the Federal Reserve unveiled last week. The Fed hopes to drive interest rates down and stock prices up.

Household net worth fell to $62.7 trillion in the April-June quarter, according to a Federal Reserve report released Thursday. A 2.1 percent increase in home values added $355 billion. But the value of stock holdings fell about $600 billion.

Household wealth, or net worth, reflects the value of assets like homes, bank accounts and stocks minus debts like mortgages and credit cards. It peaked before the recession at $67.4 trillion.

Americans' net worth has risen 22.5 percent from its low of $51.2 trillion reached in early 2009, in the depths of the recession. But it's still about 7 percent below the pre-recession peak.

The Fed report also found that:

Americans borrowed more in the April-June quarter. Mortgage debt declined for the 13th straight quarter. But Americans are taking on more student and auto loans.

After-tax incomes have risen a bit, making debts slightly easier to manage.

U.S. homes were worth about $16.9 trillion in the April-June quarter, up from a bottom of about $16.1 trillion. That's below the $22.7 trillion reached in 2006, at the peak of the bubble.

Americans' holdings of stocks and mutual funds fell to $14.3 trillion, down from $14.9 trillion in the first quarter.

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