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MADISON, Wis. – February saw the highest decline in credit unions since August 2001 even as 119,000 members were added for a total industry count of 85.2 million. CUNA Mutual Group’s February Credit Union Trends Report revealed that the credit union marketplace shrank by 44. For the year, the industry has lost 56 credit unions with the total count now at 9,653. Industry experts note that some members that belong to more than one credit union are counted as a separate member for each one that he or she belongs to. Semi-annual data revisions added 532,000 members to the original estimates. This revision increased the annual growth rate from 1.2% to 1.8%. The year-over-year increase in members rose to 1.5 million. In other areas, member savings improved by $7 billion in February increasing the total to $557 billion, according to the report. While the year-to-date net inflow of $11.4 billion is a solid increase, CUNA Mutual advises credit unions not to count on “large inflows of `cheap money’ in 2004. Still, assets grew to $642 billion in February as annual growth slowed to 7.5%, down from early 2002′s peak of 15.6%. Regular shares, which comprise 38% of all credit union deposits, now pay 0.94%, down three basis points from the start of 2004 and 47 from February 2003. Average deposit yields on almost all types of accounts declined in February, CUNA Mutual reported. Credit unions currently hold $390 billion in member loans, which is a “healthy” 9.7% showing over the amount posted last February, CUNA Mutual reported. Fixed and adjustable rate first mortgages were the “biggest contributors” to the increase, accounting for 31% and 15%, respectively. While total loan growth has nearly passed its 10-year average rate of increase, installment loans have yet to reach that benchmark. The loan-to-share fell 125 basis points to 70.0% due to a “surge” in deposits while the capital-to-asset ratio improved at 10.7%. Despite the year-to-date decline, this key ratio is 176 bps above February 2003′s ratio, according to the report. Reduced deposit inflows this year could move both the capital/asset ratio and loan/share ratio up by year end. Even though total car loans slipped in February, lending still rose 9.5% over the past year with new car loans comprising 44% of all car loans. As previously forecast by CUNA Mutual, used car loans continue to see substantial gains. Since February 2003, used car loans have accounted for 70% of all vehicle loan growth and 26% of total loan growth. This year’s used car loan figures are expected to be the most solid performance growth since 2000, according to the report. [email protected]

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