Link to Fitch Ratings' Report: Residential Mortgage Market Index - U.S.A.Jan 22 - Delinquencies for U.S. RMBS have and will continue their slow decline this year, according to Fitch Ratings in its new mortgage market index. Fitch's 60+ day delinquency index improved to 28.6% by the end of fourth-quarter 2012 (4Q'12), a slow decline compared to 30.6% at end-4Q'11. Driving the improved delinquency rate is positive trends for both Alt A and subprime RMBS, along with post-2005 prime deals. 'Perhaps the most notable factor driving improved delinquency performance has been positive selection among remaining borrowers, along with loan modifications and positive home price trends,' said Grant Bailey, Managing Director at Fitch. Home prices increased roughly 5% nationally and over 7% in California from the start of 2012 to the beginning of 4Q'12. Helping the price increase was low mortgage rates and a lower percentage of distressed property liquidations. That said, Fitch still sees risk in certain regions. 'The Northeast in particular has not yet seen the significant declines seen in the rest of the country and as such is vulnerable to further home price declines,' said Bailey. Fitch's index is published quarterly and highlights performance trends in legacy and new issue RMBS, house price conditions and mortgage market developments. Fitch's index measures the percentage of loans that are seriously delinquent among U.S. private label, securitized mortgage loans. 'The Mortgage Market Index -U.S.A.' is the latest in a series of quarterly structured finance index reports that Fitch is rolling out globally. It is available at www.fitchratings.com or by clicking on the above link. Additional information is available at www.fitchratings.com.