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Equifax Disciplined consumers raise credit levels 30
ATLANTA (12/21/12)--Consumer credit originated year-to-date through September increased nearly 30%--to $675 billion, according to Equifax's National Consumer Credit Trends Report.That compares with $523 billion for the same period in 2010.

Credit originations today are below the 2006-2007 pre-recession levels of about $1 trillion by about one-third, said Equifax.

Balances on credit originated the past two years represent roughly 32% of outstanding balances, but are less than 6% of total delinquent balances. This reflects better underwriting and more responsible consumer payment behavior, said the Atlanta-based credit reporting bureau.

Write-offs dropped more than 53%--to $70.9 billion year-to-date through November-- after peaking at $151.8 billion for the same period in 2009.

"Consumer spending is being supported by gradually opening credit markets, with higher new limits on accounts, a graduate upward trend in non-mortgage consumer debt outstanding, and also consistently low utilization rates," said Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts.

"Meanwhile, consumer finance delinquency rates, not including home loans, have returned to pre-recession levels--all signs that the consumer-led recovery is gaining strength heading into 2013," she said.

Equifax noted that auto loans originated through September totaled 16.4 million, a more than 11% increase from the period a year ago and the highest in five years.  The total number of outstanding loans--58 million through November--is at its highest level in 37 months. Auto loan balances also continued rising, totaling $775.7 billion in November, a 45-month peak. Auto loan amounts originated through September totaled $318.2 billion, more than 33% more than the $210.2 billion during the same period in 2009.

Total retail credit card limits through November were at $345 billion, the most in 30 months. Originations year-to-date through September totaled $25.6 million, a four-year high. Credit limits for new card originations through September totaled $47.5 billion. That's more than 17% more than 3010's $39.4 billion.

Bank credit card limits opened year-to-date through September rose nearly 44% to $132.2 billion from $87.8 billion during the same period in 2010, said Equifax. New bank card accounts totaled 29 million, the highest for that period since 2008.Write-off rates for November rose 20% from a year earlier, said Equifax.


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