Hitting the brakes: Commercial banks are cutting back sharply on auto lending just as car sales are starting to slow, "raising fears the slump might deepen," the paper reports. Wells Fargo, for example, one of the biggest lenders, said its auto loan originations dropped 29% in the first quarter compared to the year-earlier period, the biggest decrease in at least five years. Other large lenders also reported steep declines. While most of the falloffs are occurring in lending to riskier borrowers, some banks are also cutting back on loans to prime customers.

"It's been an overheated sector," Fifth Third CEO Greg Carmichael said. "The auto business just isn't as attractive right now."

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