Fannie Mae posts $3.2B profit in 2Q; to pay $3.1B dividend

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Fannie Mae reported net income of $3.2 billion from April through June, up from a year earlier as the mortgage giant marked gains on its investments.

The government-controlled company released its second-quarter results Thursday. Washington-based Fannie Mae will pay a dividend of $3.1 billion to the U.S. Treasury next month if the company's federal regulator agrees. That payment would bring the total dividends paid by Fannie to $165.8 billion.

Fannie received $116 billion from taxpayers when the financial crisis struck in September 2008. The government rescued Fannie and smaller sibling Freddie Mac after they suffered huge losses from risky mortgages in the housing market bust. Together the companies received rescue loans totaling about $187 billion. The housing market's gradual recovery has made Fannie and Freddie profitable again.

Fannie's second-quarter profit marked an increase from the $2.95 billion it earned in the same period of 2016.

Fannie reported investment gains of $385 million in the second quarter, swinging from a $9 million loss in the first quarter but slightly below its $398 million in gains in the second quarter last year. The company earned $5 billion in net interest income in the April-June period, down from $5.29 billion a year earlier.

On Tuesday, Freddie reported net income of $1.7 billion for the second quarter, up from $993 million a year earlier. Freddie will pay a dividend of $2 billion to the Treasury next month.

Record-low interest rates have helped spur home purchases and boosted the housing market. Still, the market's revival has been uneven, and it has lagged behind the rest of the economy. Despite the low borrowing rates that could lure prospective homebuyers, the market has remained hampered by tight mortgage credit, rising home prices and stagnating incomes.

After a campaign earlier this year to gradually raise interest rates from ultra-low levels, the Federal Reserve took a pause starting in May and kept its key short-term rate unchanged. Last week the Fed said that it's keeping the rate steady at a time when inflation remains undesirably low despite the job market continuing to strengthen.

A government report last week showed that gross domestic product — the broadest gauge of the economy — grew at a 2.6 percent annual rate in the second quarter. That's more than double the revised 1.2 percent in the first quarter. This year, the economy is expected to grow at roughly 2 percent.

The Labor Department's report on July employment will be out Friday. Economists have estimated that 180,000 jobs were added last month.

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 home loans.

The two companies don't directly make loans to borrowers. They buy mortgages from lenders, package them as bonds, guarantee them against default and sell them to investors. That helps make loans available.

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