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A year-end look at the auto financing market

Dec 01, 2011 Randy Mosteller

While the U.S. automotive sector has shown some strong improvements in recent months, with new loan originations nearing pre-recession levels, not all is on the mend. Loan delinquencies, for example, have fluctuated, recently climbing for the first time since 2009. Auto insurance costs are also rising. According to Online Auto Insurance, average premiums rose nearly 1 percent nationwide in November. A number of insurers reported declining year-over-year profits in the third quarter. "The latest Consumer Price Index report … showed the average price of coverage rose 0.8 percent between September and October," the source reported in a release. "The average premium in October 2011 was 2.9 percent higher than in October 2010." Overall, however, analysts expect auto financing prospects to improve for consumers in 2012. Projected gains in employment, economic growth and wage increases - not to mention continued low interest rates - will help lenders' credit decisions and offer a boost to the market. Michael Koukounas, senior vice president of special client services at Equifax, argued that if the momentum of auto loans remains through this year, 2011 figures should reflect a return to pre-recession lending levels.