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More current mortgages go delinquent in 3Q as household debt falls

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The number of current mortgages turned delinquent rose for the first time this year, up to 2.7% of all active mortgage loans, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit released Monday. The number of early delinquent loans fell to the lowest rate since 2008, down to 32% in third quarter from 33% in second quarter. The NY Fed said, however, "this improvement was not accomplished by a higher cure rate, since transitions from early delinquency to 'current' also declined in the quarter." New foreclosures dropped 5.5% in the third quarter to 457,000. On the whole, the New York Fed said that household debt declined for the seventh consecutive quarter. As of Sept. 30, consumer indebtedness totaled $11.6 trillion, down 0.9% or $110 billion from the previous quarter. Consumer debt peaked in the third quarter of 2008 at $1.3 trillion. The Fed said the decline in debt marks a shift in the household cash flow from debt, indicating a decrease in available funds to consume. "Americans are borrowing less and paying off more debt than in the recent past," said Donghoon Lee, senior economist in the Research and Statistics Group at the New York Fed. "This change, which we continue to study carefully, can be a result of both tightening credit standards and voluntary changes in saving behavior." According to the report, total household delinquency rates declined for the second quarter in a row. Only 11.1% of outstanding debt was in some stage of delinquency, down from 11.4% in the second quarter and 11.6% a year ago. Currently, about $1.3 trillion of consumer debt is delinquent and $928 is seriously delinquent at 90-plus days. Credit cards have the highest rate of delinquency for the third quarter at 13%, followed by student loans, mortgages, auto loans and home-equity revolving loans. The Fed reported new bankruptcies fell 16% to 522,000 from 621,000, recovering ground from the spike seen in the second quarter. However, bankruptcy filings are 13.8% for the 12 months ending Sept. 30, according to U.S. Judicial Branch. About 1.6 million bankruptcies were filed in the period, 58,322 in the business sector and about 1.54 million in the non-business sector. Check this interactive map for regional listings. According to the Fed, California held the most debt per capita in the third quarter, followed by Nevada and New Jersey. Ohio had the lowest reported debt per capita, followed by Texas and Michigan. The average debt per capita was $50,000 nationwide. Write to Christine Ricciardi.

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