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US bank card defaults hit lowest level of the year

The U.S. bank card default rate has dropped to its lowest level of 2017, according to the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices

The indices, which track changes in consumer credit defaults, indicate that the bank card default rate fell for the third consecutive month, reaching its lowest level since December 2016.

"Looking at the components, we see that moves among mortgages, bank cards and autos have tended to offset one another over the past year," said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "As a result, no sector is currently showing substantial increases or signs that consumers are facing renewed financial stress. Other economic indicators through the summer echo consumers' favorable condition: Debt service as a proportion of income is modest while consumer credit and mortgage borrowing continues to see moderate expansion."

The bank card default rate fell for the third consecutive month, to 3.15%. Other rates measured in the indices increased, including the first-mortgage default rate and the auto loans default rate. The first-mortgage default rate increased to 0.66% from 0.65%, while the auto loans default rate increased to 1.05% from 0.95%.

Blitzer said consumers in certain parts of the United States affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma and wildfires in California may face challenges that could shift the overall consumer credit default picture.

"Estimates of hurricane damages suggest a total cost of $70 billion including the loss of possibly one million automobiles," he said in the statement. "Damage estimates for the fires are still being determined. Even after insurance coverage and government aid programs, many consumers will face very large unexpected expenses stressing their personal financial situations. Increased consumer credit default rates over the next several months are likely."

S&P Dow Jones Indices and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.