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WASHINGTON – The data from CUNA’s Monthly Credit Union Estimates for February is a story of `slightly good news is better than bad news.’ “The good news-the one I’ve been worried about and tracking for the last several months,” CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel said, “is that savings growth was positive in February.” Savings among credit unions was up 1.3% in February, the largest increase since May 2003, CUNA’s data showed. The fact that savings has been up two months in a row (January and February) is a positive sign after the “really lousy” last third of 2003, Hampel said. However, he added, “Savings growth for the first two months of the year is still moderate by historical standards. Usually, January through May is when most of the year’s savings inflows come into credit unions. We’ve had positive growth but the first two months of this year are about half of what we had the first two months of last year and, in fact, it’s the weakest going back to 2000.” There is another positive to savings too: credit unions are nearing the 10% milestone of household savings (9.8% in February). According to Hampel, the biggest losers in last six months have been money market mutual funds because rates have remained so low. Loan growth is typically weak in January and February and credit unions did not defy expectations for the second month of the year. Loans outstanding increased a mere 0.1% in February. But loan growth is stronger than last year at this time. CUNA found that year-to-date loans have increased 0.3% compared to a drop of 0.02% the same period last year. Credit unions’ capital to asset ratio took a positive step from 10.5% in January to 10.7% in February. Additionally, delinquencies decreased from 0.81% in January to 0.77% in February. -


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