Freddie Mac purchased $40 billion of mortgages in February, an 84% increase from the previous month as declining interest rates led to increased business for the government-controlled giant. However, compared to the same month a year ago, purchases fell 16%.

According to new figures released by the company, Freddie now holds $123 billion of whole loans (not securitized) in its portfolio, a 43% increase over 12 months.

The GSE ended the month with a retained portfolio of $822 billion, a 16% increase compared to February 2008.

But there was some negative news in the new numbers: its mortgage "purchase and sale agreements" fell to $4 billion in February, from $17 billion the prior month. Fannie Mae has not yet released its February numbers.

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