Countrywide Financial Corp. -- the nation's largest residential servicer, with $1.5 trillion in receivables -- saw its foreclosure rate spike to 1.44% at the end of December, a stunning 105% increase from the rate recorded a year earlier. Based on unpaid principal balances, that means $21 billion of loans that it owns the servicing rights to are pending foreclosure. (Based on number of loans serviced, the rate is 1.04%, or almost 94,000 loans.) Meanwhile, delinquencies in its gargantuan servicing portfolio increased to 7.20% at year's end, a 56% rise from the level at Dec. 31, 2006. The figures were disclosed in its monthly operational statement released Jan 9. It funded $24 billion worth of new loans in December, up slightly from the volume in November, but down 46% from that of the same month in 2006. Countrywide can be found on the Web at http://www.countrywide.com.

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