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Russia cuts investment in Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac bonds by 68%

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MOSCOW, November 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Central Bank has cut its investment in bonds with U.S. mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from $65.6 billion to $20.9 billion as of November 1, the bank's chairman said on Wednesday.

"The amount of Bank of Russia investments has decreased as the securities have been repaid," Sergei Ignatyev said, speaking in Russia's lower house of parliament.

The banker said the U.S. Treasury move that saw both mortgage agencies come under U.S. government conservatorship in September 2008 guaranteed that they would honor their financial commitments.

The Central Bank was not currently selling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds, nor had it signed any new deals with either of the two mortgage financiers, Ignatyev said.

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin earlier said bonds held by the Central Bank in the two U.S. mortgage giants yielded over $1 billion in the first half of 2008.

The U.S. government-sponsored firms, which together own or guarantee $5 trillion in U.S. mortgage debt or almost 40% of the market, were taken over by a federal regulator early in September to prevent their possible collapse amid the growing credit crunch.

Freddie Mac, the second-largest U.S. residential mortgage financier, asked the U.S. Treasury last Friday to provide $13.8 billion after posting third-quarter losses of $25.3 billion.

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