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Fed Extends TALF, Says Credit Markets Still 'Impaired'

The Federal Reserve said Monday it will extend its Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility another six months though it said conditions were improving in some areas.

In a joint announcement with the Treasury Department, the central bank said the TALF, as the program is known, now will run until June 2010, from its original cutoff date of December 2009.

"Conditions in financial markets have improved considerably in recent months," the Fed and Treasury said in their statement. "Nonetheless, the markets for asset-backed securities backed by consumer and business loans and for commercial mortgage-backed securities are still impaired and seem likely to remain so for some time."

The extension will cover newly issued commercial mortgage-backed securities but will not be expanded to cover assets not already eligible.

The program targets primarily students loans and credit cards but extends to other financing as well.

The TALF started in March and figures prominently in efforts by the Fed and the Obama administration to ease credit, stabilize the financial system and help end the recession.

Under the program, investors use the funds to buy securities backed by auto and student loans, credit cards, business equipment and loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration.

The broader TALF program had gotten off to a lethargic start, hobbled by rule changes, investor worries about financial privacy and fears that participants might become ensnared in an anti-bailout backlash from the public and Congress.

The program has the potential to generate up to $1 trillion in lending for households and businesses, according to the government. Spurring such lending is vital to turning around the economy.

The Fed and Treasury said they were prepared to reconsider this decision if financial or economic developments conditions indicate that such an expansion would still be warranted. However, the government believes the financial system is beginning to stabilize after being hit last fall by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The Fed and the Treasury also extended TALF through March 31 for newly issued asset-backed securities and already-issued, or "legacy," commercial mortgage-backed securities.

—Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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