Large mortgage servicers continued to shed delinquencies as overall loan performance improved in the fourth quarter, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said Friday.

The OCC's quarterly Mortgage Metrics Report said the rate of loans at the eight reporting national banks that were current and performing rose 20 basis points from the previous quarter, to 93.2%, and was an improvement from the 91.8% set a year earlier.

The rate of mortgages that were 30 to 59 days past due dropped to 2.4%, compared with 2.6% a year earlier. Seriously delinquent mortgage rates — including mortgages more than 60 days delinquent or those 30 days delinquent held by bankrupt borrowers — likewise dropped to 3.1%, compared with 3.5% a year earlier.

The report also noted that mortgage servicers undertook more than 195,000 "home retention actions" in the fourth quarter, which included modifying mortgage terms or other actions meant to keep borrowers in their homes. That was compared to nearly 50,000 "forfeiture actions," such as short sales or foreclosures.

"The overall performance of mortgages in this report improved slightly from the previous quarter, and from a year earlier," the report said. "Improved economic conditions and aggressive foreclosure prevention assistance contributed to the decreased foreclosure inventory."

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