Delinquency rates on closed-end home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) showed little improvement in the fourth quarter compared to the third, according to new figures released by the American Bankers Association (ABA).

The 30-day delinquency rate on HELOCs edged down by 1 basis point to 1.73% in the fourth quarter. During the financial crisis the seasonally adjusted delinquency rate on HELOCs hit a high of 2.12% in the second quarter of 2009.

Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted delinquency rate on closed-end HELs was unchanged at 4.05% in the fourth quarter. A year ago, the delinquency rate was 4.32%.

ABA chief economist James Chessen said delinquencies on other forms of consumer credit showed a marked improvement in the fourth quarter. He noted that housing loans were the "only laggards but even they held steady."

Separately, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported recently that charge-offs on home equity loans are continuing to trend downward.

On HELOCs, net charge-offs by banks and thrifts totaled $3.7 billon, down from $4.1 billion in the third quarter and $5.2 billion the fourth quarter of 2009. The charge-off rate on HELOCs fell to 2.3% at yearend.

Net charge-offs on closed-end second liens totaled $1.7 billion in the fourth quarter, compared to $1.8 billion in the third quarter and $2.84 billion a year ago. The charge-off rate for these second liens declined to 4.5% as of Dec. 31.

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