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Australian Mortgage Arrears Rise Unexpectedly as Housing Stalls

Australian home loan delinquencies rose unexpectedly as a stalling housing market kept a lid on financing options for homeowners, Fitch Ratings said.

Mortgage payments overdue by more than 30 days rose to 1.57 percent of the value of loans in the three months ended Dec. 31, from 1.52 percent in the third quarter, according to the London-based ratings firm’s Australian residential mortgage performance index.

“Stagnation in the housing market limits the refinance and sale options for borrowers in financial distress,” James Zanesi, an analyst at Fitch, wrote in the statement. “The increase in mortgage rates and the usual Christmas spending are likely to lead to an increase in arrears during the first quarter of 2012.”

The number of “low-doc” loans more than 30 days late climbed to 6.6 percent in the third quarter from 6.3 percent in the previous three months.

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