WASHINGTON-Loan dollars outstanding and savings showed meager growth for the month of January and really, savings have been flat since August, CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel said. In January, loans grew 0.3%, while savings climbed 0.7%, CUNA’s Monthly Credit Union Estimates found. “January is typically a really weak month for both loans and savings and this year was no exception,” Hampel said. Savings balances in January 2003 had grown 1.7%, so savings growth is declining. He added that Jan. 30 was a Friday, typically payday, so that is where most of that growth came from; there was big share draft growth in January (4.1%) but other savings vehicles’ growth was minimal. “If you look back over some of the other numbers, what we find is, credit union savings now at the end of January stand where they were last August,” Hampel said. This is also true of household savings in the broader market. “There was a little bit of surprise here that this household savings market is not growing,” he said. “Probably what’s happening is consumers are spending again, which they haven’t been doing for a while and also the stock market, after three years of really lousy returns has started to look better and that’s where some of the money’s going.” Because savings grew faster than loans, the loan-to-share ratio fell from 72.2% last December to 71.9% in the first month of the year. Additionally, after the holidays, credit card balances did not fall as quickly this year (1.9%) in January as opposed they did last year (2.7%). Home equities led loan growth at 2.2%, with new and used vehicle loans trailing at 0.4% and 0.1% growth, respectively. Credit unions’ average capital-to-asset ratio fell from 10.8% at year-end to 10.6% for January, CUNA’s data showed. Delinquencies were up slightly from 0.7% in December to 0.77% in January. [email protected]

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