Radian Group Inc., the Philadelphia mortgage insurer, said Tuesday that improvement in the housing market and the overall economy has begun to stabilize the home loans the company backs.

Delinquencies on mortgages Radian insures fell by 1.6 percent in May from April, company chief financial officer Bob Quint said. That followed a drop in April of 1 percent from March.

As of the end of May, the company had about 140,200 delinquent mortgages, down from 143,900 at the end of March. The decline still left about 17 percent of the mortgages Radian insures delinquent compared with 5 percent three years ago, before the housing market collapsed.

Quint cautioned that "recovery to a more normal economic environment will be slow." He spoke at a financial conference in New York.

Radian suffered big losses in recent years, including $310 million in the 2010 first quarter, because of the residential real estate market's downturn.    - Paul Schweizer