A comprehensive measure of consumer credit defaults released by S&P Dow Jones Indices and Experian shows an overall slight downward path in March. 

The composite index posted 1.05% in March, the first decline since July 2014. 

The auto loan default rate fell from February but increased slightly compared to March 2014. The auto loan figure came in at 1.03%, 3 basis points lower than February’s mark and holding close to what analysts expected. But the March figure ended up 4 basis points higher than what analysts noticed a year ago. 

For bank cards, the default rate rose 15 basis points to 2.99% in March following a jump of 23 basis points in February. It was the largest two-month increase since April 2010. 

"The increase in the bank card default rate over the last two months is the largest such jump in five years," said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "While bank card defaults spiked, default rates for first mortgages and autos were down in March and have shown no large increase since 2012.

The New York Fed’s Survey of Consumer Expectations Credit Access Survey released in February shows consumers applying for, or expecting to apply for, increased credit limits on bank cards combined with a decline in the rejection rate on such requests, Blitzer added.

"The more generous credit limits may be one source of the rise in defaults. The pattern in auto loans is the reverse: there are reports of some lenders scaling back auto loans, and there is no significant shift in default rates," he said.

Nationwide, the use of consumer and mortgage loan continued to expand and the mix of recent economic data suggests the economy is growing, but more slowly than at the end of 2014, according to the data.

Moreover, the signs of moderation - retail sales and March’s slower increase in payrolls - indicates that the Fed isn’t likely to raise interest rates until later in 2015 or 2016. This means that stable borrowing costs could lead to further expansion in consumer credit.

Five major cities highlighted in the report had mixed results in March with two cities showing lower default rates. 

Chicago reported a default rate of 1.15%, a decrease of three basis points. Dallas reported a decrease, for the first time since September 2014, of 12 basis points at 1.05%. Miami reported 1.39% for March, bouncing back 22 basis points from February's 1.17%. New York posted its fourth consecutive increase with a reported rate of 1.20%, up six basis points. Los Angeles also saw its default rate increase, up six basis points, to 0.89%.

"Looking at the five cities tracked for the release, the only large move was an increase in Miami which largely reversed the previous month's decline. Across the country, the use of consumer and mortgage loan continued to expand. The mix of recent economic data suggests the economy is growing, but more slowly than at the end of 2014. Moreover, the signs of moderation – retail sales and March's slower increase in payrolls – suggest that the Fed isn't likely to raise interest rates until later in 2015 or 2016. This means that stable borrowing costs may lead to further expansion in consumer credit,” according to the report.

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