July 7, 2014 / 1:15 PM / in 4 years

RPT-Fitch: U.S. Credit Card ABS Losses Hit New Low Along with Unemployment

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July 7 (Reuters) - (The following statement was released by the rating agency)

First-half 2014 (1H‘14) closed on another high note for U.S. credit card ABS as unemployment continues to decline, according to the latest index results from Fitch Ratings.

According to the Labor Department, the economy added 288,000 jobs in June- the fifth straight month of job gains above 200,000, as the unemployment rate declined to 6.1% from 6.3%. This represents the lowest unemployment level in six years. In addition, bankruptcies are down 12% year to date from the same period in 2013 as reported by the National Bankruptcy Research Center. This bodes well for credit card delinquencies, which closed the month of June with another record low while excess spread remained at historical highs from the previous month.

Fitch’s 60+ Day Delinquency Index decreased another six basis points (bps) to 1.09%. The decline marks a new milestone for the index as it reached the lowest level since its launch in 1991. The index has declined 22% year-over-year (YOY) and now stands 76% below its peak level registered at the end of 2009.

Fitch’s Prime Credit Card Chargeoff Index declined further by four bps to 3.07% in June. The index remains down nearly 17% YOY. Notably, performance is now 73% below its historic high of 11.52% reached in September 2009.

Consistent with seasonal trends, monthly payment rate performance increased to 26.99% in June, 7% higher YOY and well above its historical average of 17.21%. Similarly, Fitch’s Prime Credit Card Gross Yield Index increased nine bps month-over-month (MOM) to 18.34% in June. Gross yield has increased every June since Fitch created its credit card ABS index back in 1991.

Fitch’s Prime Credit Card Three-Month Average Excess Spread Index has maintained at its record high of 13.27% for a second straight month. This index has now increased 10% YOY and now stands at over twice its lifetime average of 6.51%.

Fitch’s Prime Credit Card Index was established in 1991 and tracks over $131.8 billion of prime credit card ABS backed by approximately $246.7 billion of principal receivables. The index is primarily comprised of general-purpose portfolios originated by institutions such as Bank of America, Citibank, Chase, Capital One, Discover, etc.

Fitch’s retail credit card indices registered positive momentum in delinquencies and chargeoffs in June. However, gross yield, MPR and Three-month Average Excess Spread faired less favorably.

Fitch’s Retail Credit Card 60+ Day Delinquency Index decreased by 18 bps MOM to 2.26% in June. Similarly, Fitch’s Retail Credit Card Chargeoff Index decreased by 62 bps to 6.33%, a decline of 8.92% MOM. The Retail Chargeoff index remains about 53% lower than its peak of 13.41% reached in March 2010.

Fitch’s Retail Credit Card Gross Yield Index decreased by 101 bps to 26.51% from the previous month, a 3.67% decrease MOM. Likewise, Fitch’s Retail Credit Card MPR Index decreased by 24 bps MOM to 15.67%.

Fitch’s Retail Credit Card Indices track more than $20 billion of retail or private label credit card ABS backed by over $31.5 billion of principal receivables. The index is primarily comprised of private label portfolios originated and serviced by Citibank (South Dakota) N.A., GE Capital Retail Bank and Comenity Bank (Formerly World Financial Network National Bank). More than 165 retailers are incorporated including Wall-Mart, Sears, Home Depot, Federated, Lowes, J.C. Penney, Limited Brands, Best Buy, Lane Bryant and Dillard‘s, among others.

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