A robust housing market has helped Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac outperform the S&P 500 and other mortgage finance stocks since late spring.

While the stock market has tumbled from its high point in mid-July, crushing financial services companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been stayed afloat as "defensive" stocks-those that enable investors to weather a downturn in markets. And current conditions-a flat yield curve and the start of another refinance boom-are not scaring analysts, despite increased prepayments and potential for an economic slowdown.

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