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WASHINGTON-CUNA’s economics department churned out some positive numbers for November’s loans and savings, indicating that the economy is steadier on its feet. “Loans have been strengthening and savings have been softening,” CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel said. “The net result of this is that for the year-to-date through November, we’ve just about got equality in loans and savings. The last three years with a weak economy, savings have substantially outpaced loan growth.” Year-to-date loan growth through November came 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% and savings had reached 11.8% growth. Loan growth was across the board in November, according to Hampel. “The home equity loans [and] adjustable rate mortgages had the strongest growth. Even credit card loans and new loans increased,” he said. `Other loans’-including member business loans, student loans, and other smaller categories not noted elsewhere-grew 4.6% for the month. He explained that this jump is not too important given the size of the category where a little activity can make a big difference. However, it is significant that home equity loans came in second for growth at 1.9% and adjustable-rate mortgages increased 1.3% in November. Credit card loans were also up 1% for the month, CUNA’s data found. “The really good sign is we’re seeing growth in new car loans,” Hampel said. “For the first half of [2003], actually new car loans in credit unions declined; for the second half, new car loans have been increasing as have used car loans.” New auto loans were up 0.4% for November, as were used auto loans. “What’s slowing down now in loan growth is fixed rate first mortgages,” he added. “The refi boom is apparently receding.” Hampel said this seemed a bit askew since rates are still quite low from an historical perspective but he said it could be that so many homeowners already refinanced, they are not even paying attention to the rates any more. Credit unions’ overall loan-to-share ratio increased from 70.5% in October to 71% the following month. The capital-to-asset ratio 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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