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New index shows mortgage default rate falls

A new measure of monthly default rates shows they declined for mortgages and auto loans nationwide last month, but rose for the third month in a row for credit cards, according to Standard & Poor's and Experian.

For April the new Consumer Credit Default Indices for the metropolitan area, which includes Long Island, was 4.13, compared with a 3.85 level nationally.

The metropolitan area level is 3.4 percent lower than it was in March and 12.1 percent lower than a year ago. The national level was 6 percent lower than March and 27 percent lower than April 2009.

The index tracks consumer defaults in four loan categories: auto, bank credit card, first mortgage lien and second mortgage lien. It is a measure of the proportion of consumer credit accounts that go into default for the first time each month across all four loan types, and is weighted according to the balances involved. Lower numbers are better.

A breakdown of those categories for the region was not immediately available Tuesday.

David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Indices, said credit card defaults nationwide "continue to worsen," which may "raise concerns for many consumer-related businesses as well as for consumer-oriented lending institutions."

A consumer account is considered to be in default when the lender deems the outstanding balance to be uncollectable because of delinquency, bankruptcy, repossession or when it is written off. The numbers come from a 5 percent sample of the 280 million customers in Experian's consumer credit database.

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