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Bank credit card delinquencies more than 30 days past due rose 13 basis points, to 4.51% of all accounts, in the first quarter ended March 31, higher than the five-year average delinquency rate of 4.4%, according to the American Bankers Association. The association also reports the delinquency rate for home equity lines of credit reached the highest level since 1997, with the percentage of those accounts more than 30 days past due up 14 basis points to 1.1% in the first quarter. The association cites continued housing-market stress and overall economic weakness for contributing to the delinquency increases for both cards and home equity lines of credit. James Chessen, the association's chief economist, said in a statement that Washington's tax-stimulus checks are helping consumers but are not doing enough to counter the rising cost of gas and food and declining home and stock prices. "The tax stimulus is helping to boost personal income, but persistently high gas and food prices will eat away at overall resources," said Chessen. "It was a tough quarter."

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