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Mortgage Credit Standards Loosen in January: MBA

Lending standards loosened slightly in January, according to data published Thursday by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Washington-based trade group said that its mortgage credit availability index increased by 2% in January, to 117.8. An increase indicates a loosening of credit, while a decrease suggests a tightening of standards.

"Several new initiatives aimed at making mortgage credit more available and affordable to consumers were recently announced and resulted in a net loosening of credit over the month," said Mike Fratantoni, chief economist at MBA, in a press release Thursday.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's recent move to provide low-down-payment loans, as well as FHA's reductions in mortgage insurance premiums, contributed to the availability of credit, Fratantoni said.

The MBA's monthly mortgage index was benchmarked to 100 in March 2012.

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