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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- More Americans fell behind on their auto loan payments in the last three months of 2012, a time of the year when some borrowers' financial obligations temporarily take a backseat to spending on holiday shopping.

Credit reporting company TransUnion says the rate of U.S. auto-loan payments at least 60 days overdue climbed to 0.41 percent in the fourth quarter.

That's up from 0.38 percent in the third quarter, but down from 0.46 percent from a year earlier.

Still, the late-payment rate in the fourth quarter remained near 0.33 percent, the lowest rate on TransUnion's records going back to 1999.

The trend has held up even as Americans' auto loan debt has grown.

In the fourth quarter, bank auto debt per borrower rose 5.4 percent to $13,747.