Fitch Inc. said Tuesday that delinquencies and losses on prime auto loan-backed securities in October remained near their highest level since 2000, pressured by a U.S. economy that is in "full retreat" as well as seasonal factors.

The ratings agency further warned that asset performance will continue to decline as job losses mount, home values and equities decline, and consumer fundamentals remain poor.

Delinquencies of 60 days or more for U.S. prime-rated auto loan securities jumped to 0.75% in October, up 5.6% from September's level and just below the previous high of 0.77% set in January, Fitch said Tuesday. Delinquencies have ranged from 0.54% to 0.77% this year.

Meanwhile, delinquencies on subprime auto loan-backed bonds set a record high of 4.46% in October, 4% higher than September and 26% higher than a year earlier.

Annualized net losses on prime auto loan-backed bonds hit 1.76% in October, 5% above September and 89% higher than October 2007.

Subprime annualized net losses rose at a slower rate, 0.9%, to 7.87% from last month and up 30% from October 2007.

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