Data through February 2012, released today by S&P Indices and Experian for the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices, a comprehensive measure of changes in consumer credit defaults, showed that all loan types saw a decrease in default rates for a second consecutive month.
The national composite declined to 2.09 percent in February from the 2.16 percent January rate. The first mortgage default rate decreased from January's 2.08 percent to February's 2.02 percent. Second mortgage, bank card and auto loans default rates also declined from 1.30 percent, 4.57 percent and 1.27 percent in January to 1.20 percent, 4.41 percent and 1.22 percent in February, respectively.
"It seems that 2012 has begun on a positive note for the consumer," says David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee for S&P Indices. "We appear to be resuming the downward trend in consumer default rates that began in the spring of 2009. With last month's release we reported that the second half of 2011 saw a rise in consumer defaults, led by four consecutive monthly increases in first mortgage default rates. January and February's combined reports shows broad based declines in all types of default rates, which is a good way to start the year.
"The first mortgage default rate fell by six basis points in February, bringing this rate closer to the lows seen in the summer of 2011. Second mortgage and bank card default rates fell by even more during that month. In fact, both second mortgage and bank card default rates are their lowest in the three-year history of these data. While bank cards tend to have the highest default rate, at 4.41 percent it is now less than half of the 9.15 percent recorded less than two years ago.
"Four of the five cities we cover saw their default rates drop. For the second consecutive month, Los Angeles saw the largest decline, moving from 2.54 percent in December, to 2.36 percent in January, to 1.87 percent in February. After three consecutive months of increasing default rates, Miami's fell from 4.80 percent in January to 4.54 percent in February. It had the highest default rate of the cities we cover, which is no surprise given the relative state of its housing market. Dallas was the only city where default rates rose, from 1.53 percent to 1.61 percent, but it still retains the lowest rate among the five cities we follow."
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