U.S. consumers are still in the process of de-leveraging, mainly by reducing their residential mortgage debt, Standard and Poor's analysts cited fourth quarter 2011 New York Federal Reserve data.

In an emailed research note released this morning, S&P analysts reported that total consumer debt dropped 1.1% to $11.5 trillion, with mortgage debt decreasing 1.6% in the quarter and down 11% from the peak.

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