There were fewer U.S. companies seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January compared with a year ago, as interest rates remained low, according to Epiq Systems Inc. and the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), in a report released Tuesday.

Bankruptcy for individuals also continued to drop as the U.S. economy has slowly recovered from a recession, according to the report. ABI Executive Director Samuel Gerdano said bankruptcy filings are expected to continue to drop in the coming year as households and businesses cut their debt and interest rates remain low.

The total number of bankruptcy filings of all types in January fell 11% to 78,471 from a year earlier.
Commercial Chapter 11 filings fell 36% to 479 from 749 in January a year ago,

Total commercial filings, including liquidations under Chapter 7, fell 26% to 3,728 in January from 5,006 a year earlier.

January bankruptcies included the former broker Penson Worldwide Inc, hotel video firm LodgeNet Interactive Corp, wireless antenna maker Powerwave Technologies Inc and school supplies company School Specialty Inc.

Credit rating agency Moody's said on Friday that its liquidity stress index, which rises when non-investment-grade companies struggle to find funds, had fallen to a record low in January and was less than half of its long-term average.

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