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Associated Press
This July 13, 2008 file photo shows Freddie Mac's corporate offices in McLean, Va. Freddie Mac reports quarterly financial results on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac post gains

WASHINGTON – Government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac posted profits for the April-June period as the U.S. housing market continued to recover. Gains in recent years have enabled them to fully repay their government aid after being rescued during the financial crisis in 2008.

Fannie Mae reported Thursday that it earned $3.7 billion in the second quarter. Washington-based Fannie will pay a dividend of $3.7 billion to the U.S. Treasury next month. With its previous payments totaling $126.7 billion, Fannie has more than fully repaid the $116 billion it received from taxpayers.

Freddie Mac posted net income of $1.4 billion for the latest quarter. Freddie, based in McLean, Virginia, will pay a dividend of $1.9 billion to the government. Freddie will have paid $88.2 billion in dividends, exceeding its full government bailout of $71.3 billion.

Freddie had fully repaid as of last year's third quarter, and Fannie as of the fourth quarter.

The government rescued Fannie and Freddie at the height of the crisis in September 2008 when both veered toward collapse under the weight of losses on risky mort­gages. Together the companies received taxpayer aid totaling $187 billion.

The gradual recovery of the housing market has made Fannie and Freddie profitable again. Their repayments of the government loans helped make last year's federal budget deficit the smallest in five years.

U.S. home prices have risen steadily since housing began to recover in 2012. But home prices remain about 17 percent below the peaks reached in the summer of 2006, just before the housing market bust.

And while sales of existing homes have picked up, new-home sales plummeted in June. New-home construction has fallen for two straight months. That could lead to fewer construction jobs.

Fannie's $3.7 billion earnings in the second quarter were down 63 percent from $10.1 billion in the same period of 2013. Increases in home prices slowed sharply in the April-June period from a year earlier, reducing its income, the company said.

Freddie's $1.4 billion net income declined 72 percent from $5 billion in the second quarter of 2013. Its earnings can vary widely because of changes in the value of its holdings of derivatives, investments used to hedge against swings in interest rates.

Under a federal policy, Fannie and Freddie must turn over their entire net worth above $2.4 billion in each quarter to the Treasury. Fannie and Freddie said their net worth in the first quarter was $6.1 billion and $4.3 billion, respectively.

Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages, worth about $5 trillion. Along with other federal agencies, they back roughly 90 percent of new mortgages.

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