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WASHINGTON-The financial forecast for credit unions in 2003 should not be all that different from last year, CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel said. CUNA’s preliminary year-end data unveiled loan growth at 7.5% and savings growth again in double digits at 11.2%. Credit unions’ aggregate capital ratio stood at 10.86% at year-end, while the delinquency ratio was at 0.77%. “We’re coming off of the two strongest years for savings growth since 1986, and I think that this next year will be close to [2002], another 11 or 12% for this year,” Hampel commented. “People have learned a lesson in the last few years that the stock market is not this gravy train that will just increase the value of your assets and just throw everything into stocks and you’ll be fine,” he added. However, Hampel said he does expect mortgage lending to erode as “the refinancing boom tapers off,” but that consumer credit should “pick up the slack.” Additional data demonstrated that loans grew 0.7% and savings dipped 0.4% in December, but the economist explained that the holiday-laden month is typically a weak month for savings.

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