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BORROWERS GROWING CAUTIOUS

Consumers are being careful about their borrowing in the face of a recession, the American Bankers Association says.

Its quarterly survey of consumer lending by commercial banks found that there has been no increase in the number of delinquencies on loans. "Consumers are well aware of the slowing economy and are making efforts to consolidate and repay debts, rather than take on new ones," says Robert H. Dugger, the trade association's chief economist. The association's index of delinquencies -- that is, payments that are more than 30 days overdue -- on seven types of consumer loans remained virtually unchanged at 2.56 percent at the end of the third quarter, compared with 2.55 percent at the end of the second quarter, it says.

Home equity line of credit borrowers continued to have the best record as borrowers -- only 0.8 percent of all lines of credit are delinquent. Auto loans made by banks saw a slight decline in delinquencies to 2 percent from 2.12 percent. Bank credit card rates inched up to 2.56 percent from 2.36 percent.

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