Risk managers are hopeful that the demand for new loans will rise, but a new study shows that they are increasingly worried that existing loans may go sour.

Lenders expect the appetite for credit to rise in the next six months, but are worried that delinquencies may also tick up, according to a survey released Wednesday by FICO, a maker of analytics software. The survey, a poll of financial professionals who specialize in risk, shows a slight decrease in optimism about portfolio quality, while most respondents expect credit supply to continue to be adequate and delinquencies to remain flat.

Forty-six percent of bank risk managers expect consumer credit demand to rise in the next six months, while 16% believe it will decrease. Fifty-three percent think credit-card balances will rise, while 7% think they will decrease and 46% believe that requests for credit-line increases will rise.

"Consumer spending and income ticked up slightly during the summer. I'm sure that contributed to the feeling among our respondents that consumer borrowing is poised to increase," Andrew Jennings, FICO's chief analytics officer, said in a press release. "It remains to be seen if the government shutdown causes consumers to tighten their purse strings."

More respondents began to expect increasing delinquencies in the next six months, although the majority expects delinquencies to remain the same. Just 11% expect total loan delinquencies to decline, a decrease from 24% who said the same the previous quarter.

Student-loan risk caused the most concern, with 49% of respondents saying they expect delinquencies to rise, while 15% expect them to fall. Thirty percent expect mortgage delinquencies to decline, down from 47% a quarter earlier. One in four respondents think credit-card delinquencies will decline, down from 28%.

Half of respondents said they expect most growth in loan demand to come from people age 30 to 39. Twenty-two percent expect people in their 20s to drive demand, while 18% said the growth would come mainly from those 40 or older.

Respondents overwhelmingly expect interest rates to continue rise, with 72% expecting an increase, while only 1% expect them to fall, the lowest percentage recorded in three years.

The survey, which polled 114 risk professionals at banks in the United States and Canada, was conducted in September by the Professional Risk Managers' International Association.

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