updated 1/6/2005 12:45:10 PM ET 2005-01-06T17:45:10

The number of people past due on their credit-card bills fell a bit in the third quarter of 2004 versus the prior quarter, but delinquency rates for other consumer loans rose, the American Bankers Association said Thursday.

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About 4.26 percent of credit-card accounts were past due in the third quarter, down slightly from 4.28 percent in the second quarter, but up from 4.09 percent in the third quarter of 2003.

However, more consumers were delinquent on auto and home-equity loans in the third quarter, the survey showed.

When viewed as a percentage of total outstanding dollars, rather than number of accounts, the third quarter credit-card delinquency rate was an unadjusted 4.36 percent in the third quarter, up from 4.33 percent in the second quarter.

"The results are mixed," ABA Chief Economist James Chessen said. "The slight improvement in credit-card delinquencies leaves us cautiously optimistic. However, increased delinquencies with home-equity loans and auto loans are an indication of ongoing financial stress for some consumers," Chessen said.

Direct auto-loan delinquencies rose to 2.29 percent in the third quarter from 2.20 percent in the second quarter. For indirect auto loans, delinquencies also rose, rising to 1.59 percent in the third quarter from 1.50 percent in the second.

Home-equity loan delinquencies rose to 2.82 percent of all loans in the third quarter, up from 2.50 percent in the second quarter, the ABA said.

Relatively high gas prices, slower-than-expected job growth and lack of mortgage refinancings in the third quarter of 2004 all played a role in the rise in consumer installment loan delinquencies, Chessen said.

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Home equity type Today +/- Chart
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