NEW YORK The size of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet reached another record in the latest week, spurred by its $600 billion bond program aimed to support economic growth, Fed data released on Thursday showed.
The balance sheet -- a broad gauge of Fed lending to the financial system -- expanded to $2.567 trillion in the week ended March 16 from $2.561 trillion the previous week.
The central bank's holding of U.S. government securities grew to $1.280 trillion on Wednesday from last week's $1.266 trillion total.
Meanwhile, the Fed's ownership of mortgage bonds guaranteed by Fannie Mae FNMA.OB, Freddie Mac FMCC.OB and the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae) declined to $944.10 billion from $948.93 billion in the latest week.
The Fed's holdings of debt issued by Fannie, Freddie and the Federal Home Loan Bank system totaled $139.99 billion, lower than $143.25 billion a week earlier.
Meanwhile, the Fed's overnight direct loans to credit-worthy banks via its discount window averaged $7 million a day in the week ended Wednesday, compared with an average daily rate of $8 million last week.
(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by James Dalgleish)