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Mortgage giant Freddie Mac earned $2.9 billion from July through September, its fourth straight profitable quarter. The government-controlled company attributed the gain to rising home prices and fewer mortgage delinquencies.
The increase compared with a loss of $4.4 billion for the same quarter of 2011. It also marked the sixth quarter in which Freddie sought no additional aid since being taken over by the government in September 2008.
The government rescued Freddie and larger sibling Fannie Mae during the 2008 financial crisis after both incurred massive losses on risky mortgages. Taxpayers have spent about $170 billion to rescue them, the costliest bailout of the financial crisis.
Freddie requested no government aid in the second quarter, after asking for $19 million in the first quarter. The company received $7.6 billion for all of 2011 and $13 billion for all of 2010.
McLean-based Freddie has paid more to the government in dividends than it has taken in aid over the past seven quarters, the company says.
Freddie and Washington-based Fannie own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages, or nearly 31 million home loans. Those loans are worth more than $5 trillion. Along with other federal agencies, they backed nearly 90 percent of new mortgages in the past year.
The housing market is finally starting to recover more than five years after the bubble burst. Home sales are up from a year ago, helped by a limited supply and record-low mortgage rates. Builders are more confident and have started to construct more homes. And home prices are showing consistent gains.
A report Tuesday by CoreLogic showed that a measure of U.S. home prices jumped 5 percent in September compared with a year earlier. It was the largest year-over-year increase since July 2006.
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