Business

Late car loan payments rose in fourth quarter

LOS ANGELES – More Americans fell behind on their auto loan payments in the last three months of 2012, a time of the year when some borrowers’ financial obligations temporarily take a backseat to spending on holiday shopping.

Beyond the seasonal increase, the late-payment rate on auto loans declined on an annual basis and remained near the lowest point in more than a decade, credit reporting agency TransUnion said today.

U.S. auto sales grew 13.4 percent last year to 14.5 million and are projected to climb up to 15.5 million this year.

The combination of strong auto sales and low interest rates has fueled a rise in auto financing. As more borrowers have taken on auto loans, the ratio of those who have failed to make timely payments has diminished.

In addition, most borrowers continue to make paying their auto loans a priority, a trend that grew more pronounced in the aftermath of the housing collapse and recession.

“Consumers are valuing their auto-related loans a little more ahead of other things when they do get a little bit stretched in their budgets,” said Peter Turek, automotive vice president in TransUnion’s financial services business unit.

The rate of auto loans with payments late by 60 days or more was 0.41 percent in the last three months of 2012. That’s up from 0.38 percent in the previous quarter, but down from 0.46 percent a year earlier, TransUnion said.

Even so, the fourth quarter’s late-payment rate remained near the lowest rate on TransUnion’s records going back to 1999. That record-low rate, 0.33 percent, was recorded in the second quarter of last year.

HP will part with webOS in LG Electronics deal

SAN FRANCISCO – Hewlett-Packard is selling its webOS software to South Korean electronics company LG Electronics, securing a new home for a technological orphan.

The deal announced Monday rids HP of the centerpiece of its ill-fated, $1.8 billion purchase of Palm Inc. three years ago. HP used webOS as its springboard into the smartphone and tablet computer market in 2011, but quickly scrapped the mobile devices running on the software amid disappointing sales. LG Electronics has grander plans for webOS. Initially, the software will be melded into a new line of Internet-connected televisions. Financial terms of the webOS sale weren’t disclosed.



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