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Fed Buys More Corporate Bonds          07/11 10:37

   

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Reserve said Friday that it purchased $1.3 
billion in corporate bonds in late June as part of its effort to keep U.S. 
interest rates low and ensure large companies can borrow by selling bonds.

   The Fed bought bonds issued by several hundred large companies, including 
AT&T, PepsiCo, and Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate controlled by 
billionaire Warren Buffett. Combined with purchases from earlier in the month, 
the Fed has bought nearly $1.8 billion in corporate debt.

   The purchases are intended to keep interest rates on corporate bonds from 
spiking, which would make it harder for companies to borrow by selling debt. 
The Fed's announcement in March that it would, for the first time, purchase 
corporate debt quickly boosted trading in corporate bonds and brought down 
interest rates in that market.

   The Fed is buying bonds from a wide range of companies to mimic a broad 
market index, in order to avoid favoring any specific industry. Last month it 
bought bonds issued by UPS, Home Depot, oil and gas pipeline company Kinder 
Morgan, and drugstore chain CVS.

   The Fed has also purchased nearly $8 billion in pools of bonds held in 
exchange-traded funds, which operate similarly to mutual funds.

   A Fed official said this week that the central bank has slowed its bond 
buying in recent weeks and may continue to do so if the market remains 
relatively healthy. The Fed's purchases remain well short of the program's 
original cap of $750 billion. The Treasury Department has provided $75 billion 
in taxpayer funds to offset any losses.

   "If market conditions continue to improve, Fed purchases could slow further, 
potentially reaching very low levels or stopping entirely," Daleep Singh, 
executive vice president of the New York Federal Reserve said Wednesday. "This 
would not be a signal that the (bond purchase program's) doors were closed, but 
rather that markets are functioning well."

 
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