More People Paying Credit Card Bills on Time

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More credit-card holders paid their bills on time last month, but charge-offs for bad loans were mixed, major U.S. lenders said Monday. Still, it was the second straight month of stable delinquency data, suggesting fewer consumers will miss payments or stop paying their bills entirely in the future.

Monthly regulatory filings from Capital One Financial (COF), Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Discover Financial Services (DFS) showed declining delinquency rates in February. American Express (AXP) said its delinquency rate remained unchanged from January to February. Credit card accounts at least 30 days delinquent are an indicator of future charge-offs, or loans the issuer doesn't expect to be repaid.

Capital One said accounts more than 30 days delinquent fell to 5.5% last month from 5.8% in January. Annualized net charge-offs for domestic cards fell to 10.2% from 10.4% the prior month, while international cards fell to 8.1% from 9%.

Bank of America, the nation's largest bank, said its delinquency rate fell to 7.2% from 7.4%, but charge-offs rose to 13.5% from 13.3%. Chase likewise reported a drop in delinquencies, to 4.7% last month from 4.8% in January, while charge-offs rose to 10.9% from 9.2%.

Late payments to American Express remained flat at 3.6% while charge-offs rose to 7.4% from 7% in January. Discover said delinquencies dropped to 5.5% from 5.6% but charge-offs spiked to 9.1% from 8.6% in the previous month.

The effect of the delinquency data on financial stocks was obscured by the unveiling in Washington, D.C. of proposed financial regulatory reform, but analysts said the credit card data were likely already reflected in share prices.

"As most managements have been guiding to higher [net charge-offs] in the first quarter, the moderate increases that we expect in February probably won't cause much reaction in the stocks," wrote Brad Ball, an analyst with Ladenburg Thalmann, in a note to clients Monday.
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