Auto originations advance 17%; 90-day delinquencies tick up in Q4, Fed says

Loan and lease originations for new and used cars reached $102 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $87.5 billion from the year-earlier period, the Fed said in a new report this week. Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

Auto originations rose a robust 17 percent in the fourth quarter, while accounts considered seriously delinquent ticked up slightly, according to the latest Household Debt and Credit Report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Loan and lease originations for new and used cars reached $102 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $87.5 billion in the year-earlier period, the Fed said in the report, which was released Tuesday, Feb. 17.

Following a typical seasonal pattern, fourth-quarter originations were down from the third quarter tally. Third-quarter 2014 originations reached $105 billion, the highest for any quarter since the third quarter of 2005, when originations reached $112.8 billion.

Delinquencies creep up

The rate for serious auto delinquencies, defined as accounts 90-plus days overdue, also rose in the fourth quarter, to 3.47 percent from 3.35 percent in the year-earlier period.

Analysts are keeping an eye on delinquencies because of a gradual increase in subprime auto loans. To put delinquencies in context, the uptick was the first year-over-year increase in 90-day delinquencies since the fourth quarter of 2012. Ninety-day delinquencies hit a recent high of 5.27 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to Fed statistics.

Total auto debt, including loans and leases, reached $955 billion as of Dec. 31, up $92 billion, or nearly 11 percent, from where it stood as of Dec. 31, 2013.

You can reach Jim Henry at

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