The Federal Reserve has agreed to extend to depository institutions at least $40 billion in increments against mortgages or other collateral in an effort to counteract the global credit crunch.The Fed will provide the liquidity through two auctions of $20 billion each in December and plans to hold two more in January for amounts to be determined. The Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, and the Swiss National Bank also took steps Dec. 12 to try to restore liquidity to the market.

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