Fewer Americans Fall Behind on Debt

Apr 17, 2013 8:02am

Morning Business Memo:

Despite high unemployment and slow economic growth, here’s one clear sign of improvement for many consumers. Fewer Americans are falling behind on home auto and credit card payments. Consumer default rates dropped in March. “The first quarter of 2013 shows healthy consumer credit quality,” says economist David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The first and second mortgage default rates decreased.” Overall, “it looks quite good. We don’t have a situation like we had at the peak of the financial crisis of foreclosures ramping up continuously,” he said.

How does consumer credit worthiness compare now with 2005 when economic growth was fairly strong? “The consumer credit situation is as good or better as it was way back then,” he added.

This morning’s quarterly earnings report from Bank of America is raising more questions about the bottom line at the largest financial firms. The bank’s profits soared in the first three months of this year but revenues fell and earnings were lower than expected.  B of A shares fell more than 3 percent.  Notably low interest-rate spreads are making it harder for the banks to make money.

Watch out for more volatility today for the stock market. The averages had their worst day in five months Monday, but there was a sizeable bounce Tuesday with a gain of nearly 158 points for the Dow Jones index. This morning, however, futures dropped sharply. Gold is down to $1,380 an ounce. The price of oil has fallen slightly on futures markets to below $89 for West Texas crude.

American Airlines is promising a near normal day after hundreds of flights were either canceled or delayed Tuesday because of a computer outage that lasted several hours.  American said Tuesday night it would reposition aircraft and crews and add more flights today if they are needed.

Yahoo profits rose 36 percent in the latest quarter, compared to a year ago. But its stock dropped 6 percent tin the pre-market. There was a 7 percent drop in Yahoo’s Internet advertising revenue.

This might be the greatest resignation letter ever! BusinessInsider.com says on his 31st birthday Chris Holmes decided it was time to quit his job as a border control official at London’s Stansted Airport and pursue his dream job of making cakes for a living. Holmes, who calls his business Mr. Cake, baked a cake for his employers with the letter written in icing. A photo of his good-bye was tweeted around the world.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc

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