Credit card delinquencies fell again at major lenders in May as more consumers managed to pay their bills despite a sluggish economic recovery.
Capital One, Discover, JPMorgan Chase and American Express all said on Tuesday that their 30-day delinquency rates for credit cards fell for the fifth straight month in May, to their lowest levels this year.
Credit card accounts that are at least 30 days past due are an early warning sign of future losses. The improvement in delinquencies exceeded some analyst expectations and indicated that more consumers are staying on top of their bills.
But persistently high unemployment is still dampening hopes for a full recovery from the credit losses of the past two years. Analysts and industry executives say that until U.S. unemployment recedes from the 10 percent level, consumers will continue to struggle to repay all of their debts.
Losses from uncollectable loans have ebbed from last year's peak, but remain high at most U.S. credit card lenders. Losses fell in May at Capital One and JPMorgan Chase, but inched back up at Discover.
Capital One said in a regulatory filing that its annualized net charge-off rate for U.S. credit cards fell to 9.48 percent in May from 9.68 percent in April. Its accounts at least 30 days delinquent declined to 4.80 percent from 5.07 percent.
At Discover, 30-day delinquencies fell to 4.95 percent in May from 5.2 percent in April. But after two months of improvement, Discover's net charge-offs edged back up to 8.82 percent from 8.42 percent.
Accounts that were more than 30 days past due at JPMorgan Chase continued to improve, falling to 4.22 percent in May from 4.4 percent in April. The lender's charge-off rate also fell to 8.95 percent from 9.03 percent.
Thirty-day delinquencies at American Express also fell in May, from 3.1 percent in April to a May reading of 2.9 percent, prompting the company's shares to tick upwards, to about $41.
Shares of JPMorgan were up slightly more than 1 percent, while Discover neared a 3 percent rise toward $13.78, and Capital One gained more than 4 percent towards $42.06.
The major U.S. credit card lenders report the performance of their loan portfolios in monthly regulatory filings.
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