Fed Can't Budge CU Rates

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WASHINGTON - (11/24/04) --Credit union rates on the mainstaysavings accounts--regular shares, share drafts and money marketaccounts--continue to hover at record lows, despite the FederalReserve's efforts to push rates higher with four separateshort-term rate hikes over the past four months. The reluctance toraise savings rates has helped eliminate savings growth over thepast two quarters and threatens future growth as well, according toseveral experts. "Credit unions are going to have to start raisingtheir rates. The market is going to force them to do it," BillHampel, chief economist for CUNA, told The Credit Union Journal,noting the continuation of record low rates. Data compiled byDataTrac Corp., which follows rates for 1,000 credit unions, showsthe average rates paid by credit unions have remained at all-timelows for the past six months, with regular shares paying just0.74%; share drafts (checking) a paltry 0.45%; and money marketaccounts just 0.99%. "Even though rates have gone up short-termwith the Fed's actions, credit unions haven't raised their rates,but neither have the banks," noted NAFCU economist Jeff Taylor, whopointed out that banks rates on savings are even lower than thosepaid by credit unions. DataTrac, which follows rates paid by 7,000banks, shows average bank rates on regular savings are only 0.49%;for checking just 0.35%; and for money market accounts 0.58%. Buteven with the lower rates paid by banks, consumers are going tofind other options for higher yields. "Alternatives are going toget more attractive," he said.

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