Paulson: Prime focus to support GSEs in "current form"
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said on Friday that his chief aim at present is to back government-sponsored mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in their "current form", giving no sign a government bailout of them was imminent.
"Today our primary focus is supporting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in their current form as they carry out their important mission," Paulson said in a statement, which he said was issued in response to media reports about "contingency planning" at the Treasury on the fate of the major mortgage finance companies.
Paulson's statement appeared at odds with a report in the New York Times that the Bush administration is considering plans to shut down and take over the mortgage enterprises, whose financial soundness has come into question amid a severe credit crunch and housing market downturn.
"We appreciate Congress' important efforts to complete legislation that will help promote confidence in these companies. We are maintaining a dialogue with regulators and with the companies," he said.
"OFHEO (The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight) will continue to work with the companies as they take the steps necessary to allow them to continue to perform their important public mission," he added.
WASHINGTON - U.S. hiring likely picked up enough in February to keep the Federal Reserve on track in reducing its monetary stimulus.
- U.S. small businesses borrowed more money in January than they did a year earlier, signaling continued growth in the economy despite a spate of cold weather that has been blamed for weakness in many other indicators of activity.
BEIJING/HONG KONG - China reiterated its opposition on Thursday to a European Union plan to limit airline carbon dioxide emissions and called for talks to resolve the issue a day after its major airlines refused to pay any carbon costs under the new law.