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Brazil's Caixa sees defaults falling this quarter

SAO PAULO, May 21 (Reuters) - Caixa Econômica Federal SA, Brazil's largest mortgage lender, expects loan defaults to fall this quarter after the indicator jumped to its highest level since at least 2010 in the first three months of the year, Chief Financial Officer Marcio Percival said on Wednesday.

Percival said in an interview to discuss the lender's first-quarter results, that Caixa's loan book will likely grow between 20 percent and 22 percent this year. In March, executives had set guidance of 22 percent to 25 percent for lending growth.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Caixa said loans in arrears for 90 days or more rose to the equivalent of 2.6 percent of outstanding loans, up from 2.3 percent in the year-earlier period. The so-called default ratio is the industry's most widely followed gauge to measure loan delinquencies.

(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Aluísio Alves, Editing by Franklin Paul)