Fannie Mae Portfolio Rose at Fastest Rate Since '03

Fannie Mae, the largest provider of funding for U.S. residential mortgages, on Wednesday said it grew its investment portfolio in June at the fastest annualized rate in nearly five years.


Fannie Mae's mortgage portfolio increased at a 22.8 percent annualized rate to $749.6 billion in June, from $736.9 billion in May, the Washington-based company said in a statement.

The goverment-sponsored enterprise (GSE) has been boosting growth in its investments since its regulator earlier this year began easing requirements on capital it must hold against the assets. Lawmakers consider such purchases by Fannie Mae and rival Freddie Mac as playing a key role in supporting the U.S. housing market that is going through a wrenching downturn.

President Bush signed into law on Wednesday a housing bill that includes measures to ensure funding for the two companies, which have sustained billions of dollars in losses from rising loan defaults.

Serious delinquencies on loans guaranteed by Fannie Mae jumped to 1.3 percent in May from 1.22 percent in April.

Fannie Mae last registered a faster annual rate of portfolio growth in September 2003 as falling interest rates sparked a record boom in refinancing.

Commitments by Fannie Mae to purchase mortgages in future months declined to $38.3 billion in June -- the third-highest rate this year -- from nearly $43 billion in May.