WASHINGTON-CUNA's economics department churned out some positivenumbers for November's loans and savings, indicating that theeconomy is steadier on its feet. “Loans have been strengthening andsavings have been softening,” CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampelsaid. “The net result of this is that for the year-to-date throughNovember, we've just about got equality in loans and savings. Thelast three years with a weak economy, savings have substantiallyoutpaced loan growth.” Year-to-date loan growth through Novembercame to 8.9% while savings grew 9% in the first 11 months of 2003,he said. During the same period in 2002, loans were up 6.7% andsavings had reached 11.8% growth. Loan growth was across the boardin November, according to Hampel. “The home equity loans [and]adjustable rate mortgages had the strongest growth. Even creditcard loans and new loans increased,” he said. `Otherloans'-including member business loans, student loans, and othersmaller categories not noted elsewhere-grew 4.6% for the month. Heexplained that this jump is not too important given the size of thecategory where a little activity can make a big difference.However, it is significant that home equity loans came in secondfor growth at 1.9% and adjustable-rate mortgages increased 1.3% inNovember. Credit card loans were also up 1% for the month, CUNA'sdata found. “The really good sign is we're seeing growth in new carloans,” Hampel said. “For the first half of [2003], actually newcar loans in credit unions declined; for the second half, new carloans have been increasing as have used car loans.” New auto loanswere up 0.4% for November, as were used auto loans. “What's slowingdown now in loan growth is fixed rate first mortgages,” he added.“The refi boom is apparently receding.” Hampel said this seemed abit askew since rates are still quite low from an historicalperspective but he said it could be that so many homeowners alreadyrefinanced, they are not even paying attention to the rates anymore. Credit unions' overall loan-to-share ratio increased from70.5% in October to 71% the following month. The capital-to-assetratio has held steady at 10.7% for the past three months.Delinquencies have stayed at 0.7% for the last six months,according to CUNA's statistics. [email protected]

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