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Refis could boost economy

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Borrowers who refinanced their mortgages in the first six months of 2009 reduced their monthly payments by a median of $120, or 10.5 percent -- an annual savings of $2.3 billion, according to a study by First American CoreLogic.Over five years, that's $11.5 billion in the pockets of homeowners -- money that could boost consumer spending and help drive growth as the economy rebounds, said Mark Fleming, the author of the study, "Consumer Benefits of Government Mortgage Finance Programs in 2009."The combination of lower payments and fixed-rate terms on the refinanced loans should also reduce the risk of future foreclosure, Fleming said in a statement.Fleming attributed the savings to the Federal Reserve's purchases of mortgage-backed securities and other "quantitative easing" that helped keep mortgage rates low, and the Obama administration's Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which allows borrowers with loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to refinance lo...