Delinquencies on commercial mortgage-backed securities declined to 0.68% in March, according to a Fitch Ratings delinquency index.This represents a 3-basis-point decline in delinquencies over the last period, according to Fitch, and is "consistent with the robust performance of most U.S. commercial real estate markets in 2005." Delinquencies linked to last year's Hurricane Katrina dropped 7% by loan balance and are now at $187.3 million. In addition, real-estate-owned properties linked to Katrina rose to 20.7%, up 2.6% from the level in February. Patty Bach, a Fitch analyst/senior director, said Katrina delinquencies are declining overall but that chronic delinquencies (90-day delinquencies plus REO properties) now total $180.9 million, 6% ($9.8 million) higher than the level recorded last month. In dollar terms, the largest concentrations of foreclosures and delinquencies are located in Texas (23%) and Michigan (13%). Some Texas markets have benefited from the relocation of Katrina refugees, according to the rating agency. Delinquencies on seasoned loans, which have more than one year of seasoning, declined 8 bps in March, Fitch reported. Fitch can be found online at http://www.fitchratings.com.

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