Of the $43 billion in mortgage loans originated in March by Countrywide Financial Corp., Calabasas, Calif., $26 billion were for refinancings, a $3.4 billion increase from the refi level recorded the previous March, according to the company.This contributed to an overall increase of 5% in volume, Countrywide reported. Purchase loans fell from $19 billion in March 2006 to $17 billion last month. Home equity fundings were down 5%, nonprime fundings were down 29%, and originations of option adjustable-rate mortgages totaled $3.5 billion, down from $8.8 billion a year ago. Countrywide's pipeline at the end of March totaled $69 billion, up $5 billion from that of March 2006. The servicing portfolio totaled $1.4 trillion, compared with $1.2 trillion a year earlier, and delinquencies on the portfolio stood at 4.29% for March, compared with 5.02% for December 2006 and 3.68% for March 2006. "Historically, delinquencies have trended downward from the fourth quarter to the first quarter due to seasonality," said David Sambol, Countrywide's president and chief operating officer. "While current market conditions are creating short-term volatility in our residential mortgage business, management believes the company is well-positioned to capitalize upon the longer-term opportunities that are being created as the marketplace rationalizes." The company can be found online at http://www.countrywide.com.

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