Construction and development lending at banks and thrifts accelerated at a 33% annual rate in the fourth quarter, the highest rate of construction lending since 1986, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.FDIC-insured institutions added $111.8 billion in C&D loans to their balance sheets last year, bringing the year-end total to $448.7 billion. Bank call reports don't break out commercial from residential C&D loans, but FDIC chief economist Richard Brown said "this boom" is dominated by residential construction lending. The FDIC fourth-quarter report also shows that banks continued to bulk up on one- to four-family mortgages at an 11.4% annual rate last year, but they stayed out of the mortgage-backed securities market. Banks and thrifts ended 2005 with a combined $1.14 trillion MBS portfolio, up less than $1 billion from that of Sept. 30. Meanwhile, borrowings against home equity lines of credit actually declined by $3.8 billion in the fourth quarter, to $534.3 billion, as borrowers turned to fixed-rate second mortgages.

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