* US bankruptcies may fall below last year's 1.53 mln
* Consumer credit outstanding declines, Fed says
NEW YORK, April 4 The number of U.S. consumer
bankruptcies fell 6 percent in the first quarter, a sign that
Americans may be doing a better job handling their debts as the
There were 340,012 consumer bankruptcy filings from January
to March, down from 363,215 a year earlier, according to the
American Bankruptcy Institute, citing data from the National
Bankruptcy Research Center.
In March, there were 144,657 filings, up 41 percent from
February's total of 102,686, but down 3 percent from the
149,268 recorded last March.
ABI Executive Director Samuel Gerdano projected that the
number of filings this year will be lower than the 1.53 million
recorded in 2010.
Last year's total was the highest since the 2.04 million
recorded in 2005, when consumers rushed to seek protection from
creditors ahead of a stricter federal bankruptcy law taking
effect in October of that year.
U.S. consumer credit outstanding has fallen to $2.41
trillion in January from $2.57 trillion two years earlier,
Federal Reserve data show.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tim