NEW YORK -- Moody's Investors Service said its Credit Card Chargeoff Index rose to a record high of 6.24% in March, up from 5.67% in February.

"That rise may be partly due to seasonal factors in March, which had resulted in similar February-to-March jumps in past years," Moody's said.

"The chargeoff rate has been relatively flat, but at historically high levels, during the past year," it added.

"The blip in March is comparable to those seen in 1990 and 1991," Moody's said. Therefore the March data do not change "the big picture, which we see as steady but relatively weak credit quality."

"In contrast to the rising chargeoffs," Moody's noted, "data on delinquencies in March fell slightly, to 5098% . . . compared with 6.10% in the previous month and 6.13% in March 1991."

Data from $60 Billion in Receivables

The Moody's credit card indexes are based on performance data for approximately $ 60 billion of receivables in 50 of the more than 90 bank credit-card-backed securities rated and monitored by Moody's.

Each transaction in the index sample has been outstanding at least a year, the rating agency said.

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