LONDON — HSBC Holdings PLC Chief Financial Officer Douglas Flint said Monday that the rate of borrowers unable to make payments on their loans in the U.S. is slowing.

Speaking on a conference call after releasing results for the first six months, Flint said that "although delinquencies are still elevated they are slowing."

Asked if this means impairments in the U.S. have peaked, as they were lower in the first six months than in the last half of 2007, Flint said that to say this "we would need a good crystal ball."

But, he said, while the delinquencies rate in the first half slowed, helped by fiscal stimulus packages, there are still outside economic factors which suggest there will be further strains on consumer spending that will impact people's ability to make loan repayments.

Flint said he still expects to manage down the U.S. mortgage loan book to "manageable levels" in the next two-three years. In the first six months, the bank's portfolio of outstanding loans was reduced by 13%, to $31 billion from $36 billion a year ago, of which 60% came from repayments.

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