While homeowners had more trouble making mortgage payments during the third quarter of 2007, credit-card delinquencies actually fell, as consumers moved to preserve their ability to buy necessities like groceries and gasoline, a report from the American Bankers Association suggests.

Late payments on credit cards during the third quarter fell 21 basis points, to 4.18 percent, the ABA said. Modest income and job growth helped credit-card repayment rates improve even as mortgage repayments worsened, said ABA Chief Economist James Chessen.

“Consumers facing mortgage resets may be under financial pressure, but they still want to keep up with other payments,” Chessen said in a statement. “They still need to heat their homes, put food on the table, and fill their cars with gas.”

The Mortgage Bankers Association last month reported that the delinquency rate on mortgage loans rose 47 basis points from the previous quarter, to 5.59 percent, the highest rate since 1986. The delinquency rate on subprime loans was nearly three times higher — 16.31 percent, an increase of 149 basis points.

The ABA’s latest Consumer Credit Delinquency Bulletin showed the delinquency rate on a composite of eight loan categories jumped 17 basis points, to 2.44 percent — the highest level since the second quarter of 2001. The loan categories tracked in the composite include direct auto, indirect auto, personal, closed-end home equity, home improvement, recreational vehicle, mobile home and marine loans.

The ABA bulletin showed home-equity-loan delinquencies increasing to 2.28 percent from 1.99 percent, while delinquencies for home-equity lines of credit rose a more modest 7 basis points to 0.84 percent. Property-improvement-loan delinquencies increased to 1.6 percent, up from 1.46 percent during the second quarter, while mobile-home-loan delinquencies increased 26 basis points to 2.87 percent.

Chessen said delinquency rates on loans directly related to the housing market are expected to continue to rise in the fourth quarter of 2007, reflecting continued weakness in the housing sector.

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