Countrywide Financial reported operational highlights for March, saying that mortgage loan funding totaled $40 billion, an increase of 10 percent from the prior year period.

The Calabasas, Calif.-based company said the $40 billion in March mortgage loan fundings brings year-to-date fundings to $103 billion, up 13 percent over last year.

“Countrywide’s mortgage banking activity remained strong in the first quarter of 2006,” said Stanford L. Kurland, President and Chief Operating Officer. “Mortgage loan fundings of $40 billion for March 2006 were up 10 percent year-over-year and 29 percent over the prior month.”

Kurland noted that as the yield curve remained flat, “we saw the continuation of a shift toward fixed-rate products. In March 2006, adjustable-rate fundings were 48 percent of total loan fundings, the lowest percent since April 2004. On the servicing side, delinquencies fell to 3.68 percent, the lowest level since August 2005, the month prior to Hurricane Katrina’s impact.”

Adjustable-rate loan fundings for the month of March were  $19 billion, a decrease of 2 percent from March 2005. Year-to-date adjustable-rate volume totaled $52 billion, an increase of 6 percent over last year, the company said.

Home equity loan fundings for March rose by 22 percent from March 2005 to $4.2 billion, which brought year-to-date home equity loan fundings to $11 billion, an increase of 26 percent from last year, the company said.

Nonprime loan fundings in March were $3.3 billion, which compares to  $3.4 billion for the same period last year, according to Countrywide. Year-to-date nonprime volume totaled $9.2 billion, down 6 percent from $9.8 billion for the year-ago period, the company said.

Consolidated pay-option loan fundings for the month were  $7.2 billion, as compared to $6.6 billion in March 2005, Countrywide said.

Year-to-date pay-option fundings were $20 billion, compared to  $16 billion for the quarter ended March 31, 2005, the company said. Interest-only loan volume was $8.3 billion for the month of March 2006, compared to $6.4 billion for the same period a year ago, Countrywide said.

Year-to-date interest-only fundings were $22 billion, compared to $16 billion for the quarter ended March 31, 2005, Countrywide said.

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