Rate survey: Rates remain at 14.95 percent

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Interest rates on new credit card offers held steady at 14.95 percent Wednesday, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.

The national average annual percentage rate ( APR ) remained unchanged Wednesday, after falling the previous week for the first time in 10 weeks.

None of the cards that CreditCards.com tracks featured rate changes this week. However, that's now the norm in today's placid card offer climate.

Earlier this month, some issuers, including Discover and Citi , removed a select number of cards from their marketing pages. Discover also introduced a new flagship card, the Discover "it" card.

To keep up with the changes, CreditCards.com replaced some cards in the CreditCards.com database, causing the national average APR to dip slightly. However, those were the only cards in the CreditCards.com database that changed.

All other cards tracked by CreditCards.com have featured the same APR since November 2012.

Most issuers have remained reluctant in recent months to make substantial changes to their credit card portfolios. Many have also cut back on traditional types of credit card marketing, including mailing credit card offers to consumers' homes.

Experts say that, to some extent, the cutbacks in credit card mailings reflect shifting strategies in how credit card marketers are going after new customers. However, the cutbacks may also reflect the stubbornly weak economy, which has led many consumers to pull back from applying for new cards.

GDP contracts for 1st time since '09
The U.S. economy is steadily improving, experts say, but its growth remains painfully slow -- and often choppy -- and the uncertain climb from the recession's steep fall is affecting every U.S. industry, including credit cards.

Those challenges were underscored Wednesday when the Department of Commerce announced that growth domestic product (GDP) in the U.S. contracted in the fourth quarter of 2012 for the first time since 2009.

The negative growth was largely due to major cutbacks in the public sector. The U.S. government cut back defense spending significantly in the final quarter of the year. At the time, employees at the Department of Defense were still waiting to hear back from lawmakers about whether or not military spending would be sharply reduced as scheduled after Jan. 1. Since then, those scheduled cutbacks have been delayed as a result of the fiscal cliff deal.

Businesses, meanwhile, also cut back on resupplying inventory in the final quarter of the year. That, too, played a substantial role in the negative GDP growth, said the Commerce Department. So did declines in exports of U.S. goods to other countries.

The good news is that some of the country's decline in GDP growth was offset, according to the Commerce Department, by increased consumer spending and investments. The uptick in spending and investment indicates that many people are still feeling relatively confident about the economy's prospects, despite the bumps in the road.

That said, consumer confidence as measured by the Conference Board fell for the second month in January, according to the group's most recent report , released Tuesday.

"Consumer confidence posted another sharp decline in January, erasing all of the gains made through 2012," said the Conference Board's Lyn Franco in a statement . "Consumers are more pessimistic about the economic outlook and, in particular, their financial situation. The increase in the payroll tax has undoubtedly dampened consumers' spirits and it may take a while for confidence to rebound and consumers to recover from their initial paycheck shock."

See related: Fed: As long as unemployment is high, rates will remain ultra low

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

This article appears in: Personal Finance , Credit and Debt

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