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.

However, they said that non-mortgage consumer debt increased by 0.8%. S&P analysts said that bankcard limits, open cards and credit inquiries went up in Q411. They take these events as a sign of growing demand for access to credit and possibly higher credit card ABS issuance in the coming months.

They cited the N.Y. Fed’s 4Q11 report that indicated that bankcard limits rose $98 billion to $2.8 trillion and open credit card accounts rose 3 million to 386 million.

Analysts stated that this resumes the upward trajectory from 1H11.

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