UPDATE 2-Freddie Mac delinquency rate accelerated in January
(Adds record for delinquencies, company comment)
By Al Yoon
NEW YORK Feb 25 (Reuters) - Freddie Mac FRE.P, the second largest provider of funding for U.S. residential mortgages, on Wednesday said delinquencies on loans it guarantees accelerated to a record high in January as it suspended foreclosures.
Total delinquencies jumped 0.26 percentage points last month to 1.98 percent, nearly three times that of a year earlier, according to data on the company's Web site.
Losses related to the company's mortgage bond guarantee business and on securities packaged and sold by Wall Street firms are forcing the company to seek capital from the government under an agreement arranged in September.
Freddie Mac said last month it expected fourth quarter losses may force it to draw up to $35 billion from the Treasury to maintain a positive net worth.
Rising delinquencies have come as the company set a temporary suspension of foreclosures to give mortgage servicers more time to provide new payment plans or loans for troubled homeowners. The number rises as mortgages stay delinquent longer, instead of falling out of the data as loans are reworked or homes are foreclosed.
Higher delinquencies mean the company will increase provisions for losses, said Michael Cosgrove, a company spokesman. Provisions will be updated when the company files its 2008 annual results with the Securities and Exchange Commission, he said. A date has not been set, he added.
Delinquency rates could rise further on additional foreclosure suspensions in 2009, it said.
Freddie Mac also said its mortgage portfolio declined at an 8.7 percent annualized pace in January to $798.9 billion. It is down from a record $805.4 billion in November.
President Barack Obama last week announced a housing rescue plan that heavily relies on government-controlled Freddie Mac and rival Fannie Mae to stabilize the market that is in its worst downturn since the Great Depression.
Under the plan, the companies can expand their portfolios to $900 billion, from a previous cap of $850 billion, in 2009. The government also doubled its capital pledge for each of the companies to $200 billion.
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