Reflecting the strong economy, mortgages made in 1997 showed slightly smaller delinquency rate than were shown in the first year by loans made earlier, according to San Francisco-based Mortgage Information Corp.

The research service said that while delinquency rates were tiny in any first year - just 0.09% in 1997 - they were a good forecaster of future performance relative to other vintages.

The strong performance was somewhat surprising, Mortgage Information said, because the loans made last year tended to be riskier than in previous years, with loan-to-value ratios continuing to climb.

The pattern was far from uniform throughout the country, however. Some areas on both coasts had delinquency rates far higher than the national average, indicating they could be trouble spots later on. Los Angeles was notable, with a rate 222% of the national average. Miami showed a giant 567% and New York City 189%.

The research also showed that all loans with loan-to-value of 80% or less had a 90-day-plus delinquency rate of 0.53 cent, while those with higher LTV ratios showed delinquencies of 2.18%.

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