MasterCard exec says U.S. recovery "erratic"

Retail Reuters

The worst of the economic slowdown is behind U.S. consumers, but rising gasoline prices could once again curb their spending, Chris McWilton, the payment network's president of U.S. markets, said at the Reuters Future of Finance Summit.

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"It's slow; it's erratic -- the statistics we see suggest it is a slow recovery. People continue to be cautious with what they spend," McWilton said. "Confidence is building, but at a fairly slow rate."

But he said that confidence will be tested by how high gasoline prices rise.

Brent crude oil prices pushed back above $114 a barrel on Tuesday because of unrest in the Middle East.

"If you get a $4 -- or some people are predicting $5 -- gallon of gas, that could be the wildcard," he said.

McWilton also said more retailers would likely introduce their own branded credit cards and find willing bank partners.

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"Organizations are starting to say, 'This is behind us, we at least can put together a set of assumptions (about bad debt loss rates and unemployment levels),'" he said.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba and Maria Aspan; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)