Fed sent $79.6 bln profit to U.S. Treasury last year

March 14 Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:10am EDT

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March 14 (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve pumped $79.6 billion into the U.S. Treasury last year, audited results showed on Friday, a big payday for the government thanks to the central bank's massive bond-buying program.

The income derived largely from $90.4 billion in interest on Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities. Total Fed bank assets stood at $4 trillion at the end of last year.

Preliminary results released in January showed profits of $77.7 billion in 2013.

The central bank has bought trillions of dollars of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities to boost investment and hiring.

Last December, in a nod to better growth, it decided to start drawing its latest bond-buying program to a close, reducing what had been $85 billion in bond purchases per month in small increments.

It now buys $65 billion in bonds a month and is set to reduce the monthly purchases by another $10 billion when Fed officials meet next week.

The Fed regularly transfers its profits, known as remittances, to the Treasury in what amounts to payments to U.S. taxpayers. Those profits could turn to losses in the years ahead, however, if the Fed sells assets as interest rates rise.

The Fed had interest expenses on depository institutions' reserve balances totalling $5.2 billion in 2013, the Fed said.

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