U.S. credit card delinquencies declined in the January collection period from a month earlier, though chargeoffs spiked, according to data released Wednesday by Fitch Ratings.

Fitch managing director Michael Dean said, "Until we see some meaningful improvement in employment numbers, consumer delinquencies and defaults will remain elevated at or near these levels." He added, "Delinquencies have stabilized in recent periods, but they are still high on a historical basis."

Credit card loans delinquent by 60 days or more declined 0.03 percentage point from the December period, to 4.16%, consistent with seasonal patterns. The high was 4.54%, in November.

The 30-day rate fell 0.06 point, to 5.38%. Fitch attributed the delinquency declines to improvements in Bank of America Corp.'s delinquency rates amid borrowers' increased use of modification programs.

However, chargeoffs jumped 1.12 percentage points from December, to 11.37%, the highest level since September's record 11.52%, and 54% above the year-earlier level.

Fitch attributed the January jump to a payment holiday offered by JPMorgan Chase & Co. to credit-card holders. The holiday pushed more chargeoffs into the month, Fitch said.

Monthly payment rates also continued to improve, rising to 19.34% of outstanding balances after averaging 17.49% last year.

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