Equifax, a commercial and consumer information company, released its March 2011 National Credit Trends Report Wednesday, which showed stability and growth in the U.S. credit market. The most recent trend data indicates sustained new credit growth in numerous markets, including year-over-year increases in first mortgages and home equity lines of credit. According to the findings, within first mortgages, prime originations (Equifax risk scores of 700 or more) now represent more than 75% of the marketshare. Within home equity, the trend data shows a 9% growth increase and a considerable shift toward prime borrowers or lower risk scores. “Consumer behavior is now fueling much of this improved loan performance as borrowers are more aggressively paying off their outstanding debts, which is positively impacting their credit risk scores and making them more attractive to lenders,” Michael Koukounas, senior vice president – special client services for Equifax. “If this trend continues, I would expect to see a further loosening of available credit.” Although credit available today represents about half of pre-recession levels in 2006, it is steadily increasing, with 2010 levels exceeding 2009 and that trend is expected to continue for this year. This year’s month-to-date new credit is $51 billion versus 2010 year-to-date new credit of $45 billion  — an increase of more than 13%. Other markets that experienced growth included auto, a 23% increase, bankcard, a 14% increase and consumer finance, a 5% increase. Equifax’s National Credit Trends report is released monthly and provides levels of consumer credit information from various vertical markets including: bank and retail credit cards, mortgage, automotive and student loans. The information comes from data collected on more than 585 million consumers and 81 million businesses worldwide. Write to Shaina Zucker.

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