- - Wednesday, December 7, 2011

MORTGAGES

2012 delinquencies seen dropping sharply

NEW YORK | If the U.S. economy does not suffer more setbacks, the rate of mortgage holders behind on their payments should decline significantly by the end of next year, according to credit reporting agency TransUnion.

Mortgage delinquency rates - the ratio of borrowers 60 or more days behind on their payments - will likely tick up to about 6 percent through the first three months of 2012, TransUnion said in its annual delinquency forecast issued Wednesday.

But by the end of next year, it could drop to 5 percent, TransUnion said. That’s well off the peak of 6.89 percent seen in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Chicago-based TransUnion’s forecast takes into consideration several factors, including expectations that consumer confidence and the economy will improve next year.

Also, banks are expected to get a good portion of pending foreclosures off their books next year, said Charlie Wise, TransUnion director of research and consulting.

OIL SPILL

BP cited in 5 more citations

JACKSON, MISS. | Federal regulators Wednesday cited BP PLC in a second set of citations stemming from the 2010 well blowout that killed 11 rig workers and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement cited BP in five citations. The citations, announced after further review of evidence, followed seven others issued against BP in October.

BP spokesman Scott Dean said the British company would appeal all the violations. He said the issues raised in the latest citations “played no causal role in the accident.”

One of the citations Wednesday said BP failed to conduct an accurate pressure integrity test at a specific part of the well in the Gulf of Mexico. The other citations are related to an alleged failure to suspend drilling operations when the “safe drilling margin” in the permit application was not maintained.

“Our federal regulations exist to ensure safe and environmentally responsible activities. We will continue to be vigilant in enforcing those regulations,” BSEE director James Watson said.

BP has 60 days to appeal the latest citations.

CONSUMERS

Borrowing increasing as economy improves

Americans stepped up their borrowing in October to buy cars and attend college, and they also charged a little more to their credit cards. The second straight monthly gain in overall borrowing suggests consumers are growing more confident in the economy ahead of the crucial holiday buying season.

The Federal Reserve says total consumer borrowing rose by $7.3 billion. September and October’s gains reversed a steep drop in borrowing from August, when it fell by the most in 16 months.

The October increase reflected a 5.3 percent increase in borrowing in the category that includes car and student loans. The category that covers credit card purchases rose 0.6 percent, which matched September’s gain after a revision.

EUROPE

Eurozone banks on watch for downgrade

PARIS | Standard & Poor’s on Wednesday put a number of large European banks on review for a possible downgrade after earlier this week putting the credit ratings of eurozone states on notice.

Among those listed for possible downgrade were French banks BNP Paribas and Societe Generale, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank of Germany, and Italy’s UniCredit.

S&P said further banks would be put on notice for possible downgrade.

As bank ratings are linked to ratings of their home countries, the move was expected after S&P on Monday put 15 eurozone members on review for downgrades over the debt crisis.