Banks and thrifts added $121 billion in mortgage-backed securities to their portfolios in the first quarter as their combined MBS investments topped $1 trillion for the first time, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.The FDIC quarterly report on bank and thrift performance also shows that assets rose by 3.3%, but 71% of that growth represented mortgage loans, MBS, and home equity lines of credit. Over the past four quarters ended March 31, HELOCs have grown by $100 billion to $376.6 billion -- a 36.4% increase, according to FDIC data. Separately, the Office of Thrift Supervision reported that thrifts increased their MBS holdings by only $5.9 billion in the first quarter, to $97.1 billion. So it appears that commercial banks are the main buyers of MBS. At deadline time, the FDIC had not released separate data on commercial banks, only aggregate data for banks and thrifts.

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