New York — The performance of securities backed by U.S. automotive loans improved slightly in February, in line with normal seasonal patterns, Fitch Ratings said Thursday.

Prime and subprime delinquencies of 60-plus days fell compared with January levels, while annualized net losses rose, but at a slower rate compared with prior months, Fitch said.

"Despite weaker overall performance beginning in the second half of last year and into 2008, (auto asset-backed securities) ratings have remained stable to positive because the loss rates have remained within Fitch's original expectations," Hylton Heard, a director in Fitch's asset-backed securities group, said in a statement.

Heard added that while Fitch expects the pace of upgrades of auto asset-backed securities to slow, it doesn't expect a jump in downgrades.