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Consumer credit default index down for 7th straight month

By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times –

WASHINGTON — Americans continue to do a better job paying off their debts, with a leading index of defaults on mortgages, credit cards and auto loans dropping in July for the seventh straight month.

Four of the five types of loans tracked by the S&P Dow Jones Indices and credit reporting company Experian fell in July to their lowest level since the end of the Great Recession in 2009, the firms reported Tuesday. Only second mortgages saw a slight increase from June.

“Looking at the rate of new defaults in mortgages or auto loans, the consumers’ credit position has recovered from the financial crisis,” said David M. Blitzer, chair of the Index Committee for S&P Dow Jones Indices.

“However, other data show that previously defaulted mortgages remain an issue, and many consumers still face an overhang from old debts,” he said.

Credit card defaults showed the biggest improvement in July, dropping to their lowest level since August 2007.

But the pace of improvement in default rates slowed in July compared with earlier in the year, and was not spread evenly throughout the country. Of the five major markets, New York and Miami saw their consumer credit default index level drop to post-recession lows. Chicago’s rate was flat. But default rates rose in Los Angeles and Dallas.

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