April 22 (Reuters) - (The following statement was released by the rating agency)
Chargeoffs and delinquencies fell again last quarter for U.S. credit card ABS, though the pace of improvement is noticeably slowing, according to the latest index results from Fitch Ratings.
Chargeoffs came in at 3.91% during the March distribution period and are still tracking near record lows. Elsewhere, delinquencies managed to shave off a few more basis points, averaging 1.63% and breaking new records in the first three months of this year. 'Credit card losses will plateau in the near term before trending higher later this year,' said Managing Director Michael Dean.
Monthly payment rates (MPRs) spiked in first quarter 2013 (1Q'13) after remaining stable in 4Q'12. In fact, 'February posted a record high for MPR as consumers continue to pay down existing balances,' said Dean. ABS deleveraging also reversed course this past quarter. For the first time in nearly five years, credit card outstandings began to rise with two consecutive monthly increases during the quarter. This is a sign that interest in new credit card ABS is picking up.
The U.S. Credit Card ABS Index is part of Fitch's series of structured finance index reports. The index reports are updated quarterly and are available at 'www.fitchratings.com' or by clicking on the above link.
Link to Fitch Ratings' Report: Credit Card Index: Movers & Shakers â€“ U.S.